Kelly Grebe, Boulder, CO

 Position/Job title: Vocational Specialist and Community Liaison at Colorado Recovery

What prompted you to get involved with mental health causes and why do you continue to do this work?

Like many people in the field, I have a family member who has struggled with mental health. Studying psychology in college was fascinating for me. To this day I like to stay current on research and breakthroughs.

As a job coach/vocational specialist I have a unique and specialized role. I get to see tangible results of not only my vocational counseling, but I get to see how working with doctors and therapists help people stabilize in order to be able to work. I truly believe in the benefits of work and it is incredibly rewarding when I help someone find a vocation that is a great fit for them and their recovery.

What has doing this work taught you?

This work has taught me a lot about when to push someone out of their comfort zone and when to back off a little. It has really helped me improve my motivational interviewing skills and taught me strategies to help people achieve their goals.

When it comes to the work you have done in the mental health field, what do you feel most proud of?

Over the years I have discovered that I rarely experience what therapists call “compassion fatigue”. I have been able to maintain a compassionate, open relationship with nearly all of my clients.

What is the biggest misconception(s) people have about mental health and/or mental illness?

Unfortunately, our national tragedies often cite mental illness as a cause for horrific events. Statistically a person with a mental illness is more likely to be the victim of a crime than a perpetrator. Hate is not mental illness; most of my clients are incredibly humble, resilient and kind people.

What is your greatest hope when it comes to your professional mark/legacy? 

I would like to be acknowledged and remembered as someone who was an excellent vocational “match maker”. I helped people uncover their own inner strengths and special talents and then found creative ways to help them contribute their gifts to the world.

What is your simplest joy? 

Reading and telling stories with my young daughters.