In 2013, the St. Louis Empowerment Center began implementing an employment program designed to assist participants as they seek and eventually maintain employment. Participants in this program and benefit from the services of an on-site employment specialist who provides one-on-one guidance; e.g., email support, resume building, and other aspects of the job search process.
In 2018 the St. Louis Empowerment Center has hired a full-time Employment Specialist. A CPS with lived experience, the Employment Specialist helps peers to make life changes, striving to help others reach their full potential.
BENEFITS ACQUISITION ASSISTANCE
Program staff work in concert with program participants to provide assistance to individuals with mental illness (and their family members) who are attempting to receive social welfare benefits. These benefits may include (but are not limited to) social security disability insurance (SSDI), supplemental security income (SSI), food stamps, vocational rehabilitation services, inpatient or outpatient treatment at public health facilities (not limited to psychiatric treatment), services provided by traditional day treatment facilities, and housing and habitation services.
Frequently, mental health consumers are not empowered to become strong self-advocates as they work to ensure their own adequate access to resources to which they are entitled. This may be due to the demoralizing aspects of illness, side effects of medication, and a sense of l0w self-esteem that can result from an increasing sense of societal marginalization. Program consumers most in need of information and assistance are often the least able to negotiate a system that is complex, fragmented, and always changing.