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Painted Brain is an innovative peer-run mental health arts and tech organization that uses a
peer model focused on recovery. PB defines a peer employee as any person with lived mental
health challenges and or trauma including but not limited to: social injustice, interpersonal
violence, societal exclusion. PB considers all of its’s employees peers, where there is no
separation from community members to clinicians to executives; all identify with having mental
Research has shown that consumers experience reduced stigma and discrimination at peer-run organizations when compared to traditional service providers. The peer model is a key strategy for reducing both personal and institutional stigma for both the peer employee and consumer. PB believes that people with mental health challenges can live full, active, and professional lives. PB is an incubator that creates low-barrier jobs by understanding both market opportunities and the needs of the people we hope to employ. PB’s peer model encompasses a variety of aspects of the workplace including human resources, job recruitment/outreach, hiring process, conflict resolution, and a perspective on a workplace culture that supports workers with lived experience.
PB actively recruits and encourages peers with lived experience to seek employment at
our organization. In order to reach our target population for employees, Painted Brain utilizes a variety of marketing strategies. Painted Brain contacts and creates partnerships with other mental
health service providers in order to inform them of potential opportunities for their program
participants. In addition, Painted Brain visits neighborhood committees, local college clubs for
mental health, and hosts events to further market the many potential opportunities for individuals
with lived mental health experience to find employment within the organization.
At Painted Brain, we also host a multitude of community engagement events that provide a safe space for people with various mental health challenges. Through visiting various agencies, clubs and
hosting events, Painted Brain is able to market employment opportunities to individuals who
want employment but have a difficult time finding jobs that are able to accommodate for mental
health challenges. Painted Brain believes that everyone has unique strengths and talents that can
be utilized and turned into employment opportunities. We strongly believe that if someone wants
a job and is willing to work we will be able to identify an opportunity that works for them.
Built into the Human Resource Department at Painted Brain is a structured support
system for peer workers. PB is aware that mental health challenges affect employees ability to
carry out their job responsibilities in every workplace. At PB employees are encouraged to be
open about their mental health challenges in order to thrive at work daily.
When necessary Painted Brain has work stoppage plans for employees whose mental health challenges negatively impact their ability to fulfill their work duties on a daily basis. PB ensures that a plan is put in place to cover for an individual during the work stoppage and that the individual is projected to return to work at the conclusion of the work stoppage. PB encourages employees to check in on their mental health status at work each day.
When employees check in about their mental health, it allows their coworkers and supervisors to meet them where they are during their work hours to support them in the best way possible. As necessary and without penalty, PB employees have the opportunity to take a short mental health break during the day in order to complete their shifts effectively.
We also offer Occupational Therapy services to our employees to assist with stress
and time management. In practice, this affords PB employees the opportunity to reach out to our
resident Occupational Therapist for useful tips and to help deal with work and life stresses. In
addition, among Painted Brain staff are Peer Social Workers who can assist with crisis
intervention and with empowering individuals to be at their best state while at work.
We’re excited to have the support from Google, thanks to the Google Grant as well as the support from Alen Zamanyan, a software engineer and recruiter at Google. We’re thrilled to expand our impact with our digital education workshop series running at Daniel’s Place.
Once an individual has expressed their willingness to work, Painted Brain implements a
unique process to hire employees. Painted Brain conducts an assessment of mental health needs
and develops a support plan for the employee with a social worker.
During this assessment, the social worker is then able to identify strengths and needs together with the employee. PaintedBrain also utilizes an occupational therapist to assess skills and challenges for the employee as well. Painted Brain then requires that all their employees complete a job application as part of the onboarding process. Once the individual is ready to work, the employee and staff will
collaborate to then identify the position that best supports the strengths that the employee
An important value at Painted Brain is workplace culture. It is important to Painted Brain
to puts less emphasis on organizational hierarchy and instead encourages inclusion among all
employees. No matter the position of the employee their feedback, ideas, and suggestions are all taken into consideration when fulfilling the organization’s; mission. PB’s employees serve as a
support system for each other in order to carry out daily tasks. PB employees work as a team to
hold each other accountable in order for all employees to complete job duties to the best of their
ability. Further, PB is a workplace that takes bullying and harassment of all kinds very seriously.
The workspace is highly collaborative and all points of view and perspectives are honored and
As noted above, Painted Brain works with our community of mental health consumers to
identify goals and support their individual paths to finding sustainable employment. Painted
Brain’s peer model matches individuals with a peer coach to identify career pathways that fit
their interest the most.
Painted Brain’s peer training program offers several paths for peers to acquire the skills
they need to gain employment. These training program paths include the PB Technology Academy,
the Boutique and Art Group Services. Our Technology Academy trains individuals in the
programs needed to enter the tech force. Academy participants learn everything from the basics
of computing to advanced coding as well as security and social media. Our Boutique offers
opportunities to learn about working in a clothing store. Individuals acquire skills in how to
inventory clothing, working with customers, managing a register and maintaining the stores
aesthetic. PB Art Group Services allow contributors at PB to run their own art group and receive
a stipend for it. Art Group Leaders learn creative, fun methods for developing and maintaining
an active and successful group.
Painted Brain offers a series of job skills groups. Throughout the job skills group,
individuals learn how to take the skills that they have developed and apply them to their resume
to increase their employability. Throughout this process, PB peers can identify the skill that the
consumer wants to further develop and how to foster this development. In addition, peers learn
how to use their own mental health stories and experiences to change attitudes and invite new
contributors to Painted Brain.