Breaking the Poverty Cycle:
Creating Social and Economic Opportunities
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- Oscar Jimenez-Solomon, M.P.H., is a public health professional and advocate with over 12 years of experience in program development and applied research in health, disability, and economic development issues.
- Crystal Blyler, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, where she works on projects related to health, mental health, and disability.
- Maura Kelley, CPRP, is Director of Mental Health Peer Connection, one of the family of agencies of Western New York Independent Living.
“The biggest enemy of health in the developing world is poverty.” 1
—Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
According to the World Health Organization, the social determinants of health are the complex, integrated, and overlapping social structures and economic systems that are responsible for most health inequities. “The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age…and are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources”2 throughout local communities, nations, and the world.3
Addressing poverty is a social, economic, and health imperative. People with behavioral health problems are disproportionately affected by poverty. In fact, 32 percent of people with behavioral health problems live below the poverty line4 and 72 percent are unemployed5. Economic stressors and other social determinants of health (lack of education, social isolation, societal norms and discrimination, limited transportation options, etc.) intersect, keeping individuals and families trapped in a cycle of poverty.
During this webinar, you will learn about innovative, multifaceted interventions that assist people along the path to breaking the poverty cycle by addressing a number of intersecting determinants of health. You will gain an understanding of how these interventions impact a life, a family, and a community.
- To identify components of effective programs and interventions that take a multifaceted approach to assisting people with mental and substance use disorders in exiting poverty, which results in improved mental health and enhanced community engagement.
- To gain a greater understanding for how the cycle of poverty; economic stressors, such as unemployment and substandard housing; and other social determinants of health disproportionately impact people with behavioral health problems.
- To understand from a first-person perspective how someone can engage a range of community supports and services to exit poverty and experience financial health and satisfying community integration.
- People in recovery from mental health, substance use, and trauma-related challenges
- Homelessness and housing organizations
- Social service, welfare, and employment services
- Criminal justice officials
- Policymakers or public officials
- Leaders of community- and faith-based organizations
- Health and behavioral health providers
Oscar Jimenez-Solomon, M.P.H., is a public health professional and advocate with over 12 years of experience in program development and applied research in health, disability, and economic development issues. Mr. Jimenez-Solomon holds a master of public health from Columbia University and leads a consulting firm helping mental health, substance addiction, and developmental disability services to improve their outcomes through evidence-based program design, monitoring and evaluation, and quality improvement systems. Mr. Jimenez-Solomon is currently developing a program to offer matched savings for people in recovery with the goal of starting a small business or pursuing further education. Between 2008 and 2011 Mr. Jimenez-Solomon was the Director of Community and Economic Development at the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS). In that capacity he provided leadership to the WE Can Work & WE Can Save campaigns promoting employment and economic self-sufficiency through hope-building, skill development, and peer support. During his tenure at NYAPRS Mr. Jimenez-Solomon also oversaw a number of programmatic, research, and evaluation initiatives to address the barriers of people in recovery to employment, expand the Ticket-to-Work program, develop effective peer employment support models, improve workplace inclusion, and establish an online university for peer staff and managers. Before NYAPRS Mr. Jimenez-Solomon was Training Coordinator for the NYSARC—Ulster-Greene Counties, Officer of Research at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, International Consultant at the United Nations Population Fund, and Research Associate at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.
Crystal Blyler, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, where she works on projects related to health, mental health, and disability. Before joining Mathematica in December 2011, she spent 12 years as a social science analyst with the Community Support Programs Branch of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services. At SAMHSA, she served as project officer for a randomized cross-site evaluation of eight sites implementing supported employment programs across the country. She was also the agency liaison with the Social Security Administration (SSA) on a program to reduce the disincentives to work inherent in the Federal Government’s disability benefits system. In addition, Dr. Blyler served as project officer for the development of an implementation resource kit on evidence-based supported employment. Throughout her tenure with SAMHSA, Dr. Blyler collaborated with SSA, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the U.S. Department of Education on the Clinton administration’s Presidential Task Force on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities, the Bush administration’s New Freedom Initiative for people with disabilities, implementation of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, the Interagency Council on Disability Research’s Subcommittee on Employment, and the Federal Partners for Mental Health Transformation’s Employment Work Group. In her final year at SAMHSA, Dr. Blyler served as the agency employment coordinator for the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative.
Maura Kelley, CPRP, is Director of Mental Health Peer Connection, one of the family of agencies of Western New York Independent Living. In 1990 she was homeless, experienced 13 psychiatric hospitalizations, was dependent on social services and Social Security, and was eventually housed in a Federal housing program. In 1995 she began working with Independent Living, first as a peer advocate, then a systems advocate, and now as Program Director, employing 20 peers to increase community living, decrease institutionalization, and increase employment for people labeled with mental illness. Since she started working in 1995, she has not been psychiatrically hospitalized, is now a homeowner, and has received numerous awards for advocating for the rights of people with mental illness.
Ms. Kelley has presented workshops at the National Council on Independent Living, the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, and at numerous local venues in Western New York, including treatment programs, colleges and universities, and conferences. Ms. Kelley is also on the executive committee of the boards of directors of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and the Mental Health Empowerment Project. She also serves on the board of directors for the New York State Independent Living Council. She has published articles in American Rehabilitation, Mental Health World, and a quarterly agency newsletter called Access News.