I am working under a grant at a Mental Health center in Iowa supporting individuals who are on medicaid and have mental health issues as well as to provide crisis stabilization to deter hospitaliaton. I am a trained peer support specialist with lived experiences of mental health symptoms,myself, I have never been on medicaid and I work 37 hrs.+ per week minimum according to the job requirements. I work individually with peers, at the request of their therapist, as well as I see them occassionally in the Wellness Center provided, a place used by the public for AA meetings held each weekday morning and then used by peers during the afternoons and evenings for activities and socialization.
Last week my boss told me that she has received alot of complaints from people in the wellness center: "you make them feel uncomfortable and they feel like they have to walk on egg shells when I come into the wellness center". I was stunned to hear this as I work in the wellness center on committees with some and have also facilitated WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) to most of them which they told me that they appreciated. I have never felt unwelcomed by the peers in the center until now as I am afraid I will say or do the wrong thing.
When I asked why they were complaining she responded with "You shouldn't be cleaning the refrigerator in the center and throwing used ziploc bags away - it is their center and they should be taking responsibility for keeping it clean." I totally agreed with her in that it is their responsibility to keep it clean - but initially when the center opened things were not being taken care of by the peers and there were even complaints from therapists at the center about how messy it was.I responded to her with facts:1. I don't go in there that often except sometimes on my way out as I am leaving for the day just to say hi to the peers present and occassionally I will walk thru in the morning on my way to my office to make sure the place is tidy - floor clean,chairs not strewn here and there plus to empty the dish drainer or to dispose of old newspapers and things on the bulletin board so that when AA comes in each morning it appears tidy and uncluttered.
2. "I haven't cleaned the refrigerator since last winter = 1 time there was a noticeable bad odor throughout the room so I looked into the refrigerator and found some rotten onions and also found food that had spilled into the bottom shelf plus into the drip pan;another time when someone had laid a large pop bottle down flat in the fridge without securing the cover and it leaked throughout the fridge onto everything below. And a couple of times last winter I swept and washed the floor because it was so filthy from outside sand and salt used on sidewalks (at that time I was told by the two peers who visit in there the most that one had an arm injury and the other had back problems so they couldn't do it). It was a brand new floor when the wellness center opened in spring, 2011 and I didn't want to see it ruined.
3. "I threw used ziploc bags away that the peers were saving in a drawer because the bags were not washed before saving and still had food particles in them which I thought could be a danger in food poisoning."
I reminded the peers of these problems (last winter) so that they would pay closer attention and take responsibility in keeping the center clean. I have never felt unwelcome in the center by the peers and that is why I was so stunned in hearing this from the boss as I thought I was just helping out in the center to keep it tidy, as time allowed aside from doing my job, so everyone could enjoy visiting there.
Since hearing this - I went to work three days this past week but I have been at home for the past two days beause my own MH symptoms have been triggered. I am suffering from major depression and not knowing where I belong. I can't sleep at night so it is impossible to work during the day; I have been having suicidal ideations because my own famiy rejects me due to my MH diagnosis and now I feel like the peers I work with are rejecting me too? I don't know where I belong. This has absolutley sent my mental health symptoms skyrocketing (paranoia, trust issues and depression). I am a recovering alcoholic with 7 years sober.
I want to quit the job! I need to take care of myself. But I need to know if I would be eligible to collect unemployment benefits if I quit my job immediately? I cant take the risk of losing my home as I live alone and I have no other means for financial support.
Ever since I was hired at this mental health center I feel like I have been treated unfairly - The boss knew when I was hired that I was an active member on 3 committees in the State of Iowa for the past 5 years previous to working here: 1) as a board member on the Iowa Advocates for Recovery Committee, involved in planning and working at the once-a-year conference and monthly teleconferences; 2)I was also an active member of the Iowa Peer Support Advisory Committee since it began in 2006 under the direction of the Iowa Dept. of Human Services and participated in meetings in Des Moines + monthly teleconferences besides training new peers in Iowa for doing peer support work; I also participated in the Magellan Peer Support teleconferences regularly. I had worked at another MH agency for 2 years previously providing peer support and they appreciated my ambitions and I never encountered such problems as I do here. I took this job because my home is located nearby and I wanted to move back to be near my aging parents. But upon hire I was told I could not participate in these committes as it wasn't part of my job and so I was asked to resign on each this past year. I am a recovering alcoholic and I was also told that I cannot attend the noon AA meetings held at the MH center everyday while taking my own lunch hour, without pay. When I was hired I was one of three PSS hired and I was the only one with experience and expertise but told that I cannot use it at this center - I was told that I need begin like I'm new at PS work and to do it the way they "direct". They hired a PSS Coordinator,who is my boss, who was freshly trained in PSS work as well and fresh out of college without experience in managing people (they wanted someone with a college degree and I have had only one year of college but 5 years experience in PS + 30 years of working as a professional collegue in varous businesses - even owning my own business at one time and managing employees). So in the beginning I laid low and followed the orders but as time went on there was no direction and when I would offer suggestions -I was told that "they (management) would take care of it". Well now the grant has been cut 1 year early (before we could prove sustainability) and we will not have jobs as of October, 2012 (and I blame management at this MH center for mismanaging the funds and the PSS staff). I am bitter and exhausted. Could I file a law suit for being treated like I am less than?
I am bitter and exhausted and I don't want to return to work at this center at all. But I will put losing my home and paying bills in jeopardy if I don't.
Please advise ASAP Connie Bourassa email: XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX
the sign outside advertsing the mental health services says "to provide quality of life" - I don't feel this is true for me and the way I have been treated - do you? If I quit and don't report back to work will I be eligible to fight for unemployment benefits?? on what grounds??
Thank you - your answer has relieved my anxiety-I just need to be 'tough' when I feel violated.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).