Peer Specialist: A Great Job For Persons with Mental Illness
A Great Job for Persons with Mental Illness
If you have a mental illness as I do then you know that finding employment can be to say the least difficult, at the worst, impossible. However I finally stumbled upon a job that is perfect since one of the main requirements of the position is that you suffer from a mental illness and that you are a consumer of mental health services.
The position is called "Peer Specialist". The training takes a week but is usually covered by one of the mental health agencies and sometimes the employer that is going to hire you. The pay is decent and the employer will work around your doctors visits and make sure you are not under so much stress you can't do your job. In my case I can go in at 10 am instead of 8:00 since I am not a morning person. There is also the extra perk of not worrying that someone will discover your secret.
A peer specialist works in both the clinical setting, counseling others with mental illness and helping them find the services they need without involving the state services such as welfare, CPS, or juvenile. You will always work with these agencies as needed as an advocate for the family. In some cases you will offer to supervise the child instead of him being removed from the home or school. Sometimes you are there just to listen. In the home setting, you make home visits to see how the family is doing and what needs they may have. You will then assist them to in getting their needs met. One good example is when you are talking to the client about their mental illness, if they are worried about their rent not being paid they are not hearing you, their mind is somewhere else. It is a great position and requires little more than excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. You are pretty much able to set your own hours other than having to be available in a crisis. The best thing about the job is the ability you have to help someone like ourselves learn to cope with their illness and solve problems they encounter in daily living.
I hope anyone with mental illness will consider this position as a good employment opportunity. It is a fairly new position, created to lighten the load of the therapists and counselors since there is a severe shortage of both. My starting pay at the local mental health center to start is $ 18.50 an hour.
If you are interested in more information you can email me through hubpages and I will send you the information to contact someone providing the training.
The hubs below were written in my desperate attempt to return to work after being disabled, reading them you will see the many benefits the position I am writing about offers to someone with a disability compared to the way we are treated by someone who doesn't understand the ups and downs of living day to day with mental illness.
Make sure you're ready
After being on disability for 10 plus years and trying to survive on the megar $ 533.00 per month I decided to ask for my "Ticket to work from Social Security." Since I felt I had been stable working at home, I decided to give it a shot. After all, living on disability isn't that great.
I trolled the classifieds for a few months and noticed one ad that had been there for a long time. That should have been my first warning. But since it was for a Litigation Specialist I thought maybe there wasn't enough candidates or they didn't have the qualifications. I applied on Friday and was hired over the phone on Sunday. I forgot to tell, you that I the interview was at 4:00 pm and please be on time the Attorney doesn't like to wait. The Attorney did not arrive until 6;30 pm. I waited until 8:30 pm, another missed warning sign. The other sign I missed was that the 5-6 girls working there were dressed like prostitutes.
Finally I had my interview. it lasted about 15 minutes. I was told the hours were 9-6, mon-fri. The pay would be $ 650.00 a week, with a $ 100.00 dollar bonus for each new client you brought in each week. He told me he was impressed with my resume which had references from State and Federal judges, lawyers and the U.S. Attorney General. See ya Monday. No handshake, no description of job duties. I was still happy, after being home ten years, it seemed a godsend.
On Monday I got up early. hard for a bipolar person to do. I put on my best suit, applied my makeup and twisted my hair into a school teacher professional bun and arrived 30 minutes early. I waited in the hall for 30 minutes waiting for someone to arrive. They did, at 9:20.
I was given a desk in the reception area with the other ladies, if you could say that. I was informed that I was to call the Attorney every morning when I arrived so he could make sure I was there. I was then told that every morning each of us had to make twenty collection calls. The amounts were from 1998 to 2007. Many were disconnected or you got a machine and left a message. This was unacceptable to Mr. Attorney, he wanted his money. His distaste was shown by throwing files at us while the F... word was used in almost sentence, even if clients were present.
I guess he wasn't very happy with me on the first day. I was called to the office at 8:30, remember I was supposed to go home at six. I was given a training manual and told my performance was unacceptable. I read the manual that night. I was beyond shocked. just because the office closes at 6 that does not mean you go home at 6:30. You will also call me when you leave for lunch, and when you return to tell me where you went. Lunch if you get one is only 30 minutes, where does he think you are going ? In the three days I stayed I never got a lunch, worked 13 hours a day and it was still never enough. The end for me came on the third day when Mr. Attorney told me he didn't give a damn what I had to say to get a client to sign the contract. Promise them the moon and stars, if they say they have lost a family member tell them you have too, gain their sympathy, embellish the truth. He also tells the clients the down payment is $ 50.00, but what he leaves out is the fact that he will not meet with the client or even start the papework or show up to court for them until they pay the whole balance of $ 3000.00 to $ 5000.00 dollars. Since most of his clients are illegal immigrants, you do not even translate the contract to them, just say what he tells you to.
On my third day, I wrote my letter of resignation and put it on his desk. On that day he did not show up for 4 clients in court. Their bonds wee revoked and they were incarcerated. I knew at that moment, no matter how badly I needed a Job, I could not work for someone who had no ethics. I have been in corrections for 25 years and have never seen anyone sink so low. I collected my things and my check. In three days I worked 38 hours and was paid $ 180.00 dollars. Not even minimum wage, but I was free. If I have nothing else I have my pride and the good feeling in my heart of knowing I could never hurt another human being, no matter what they have done.
I kept the training manual and will be faxing it to the Bar Association.
Now that I have no job again, I am returning to my love, writing. I may never be rich but I will still have my pride, professionalisim and dignity.
A Few Months Later
I am still looking for somewhere to fit in. I take applications and resumes...."You're overqualified" "We just filled the position" . What the hell does over qualified mean? I thought the whole idea was to get an education. That's why I spent 150,000.00 on student loans. When I was recently declared by my Dr. as totally and permenately disabled the loans were written off or discharged.
Even though my diagnosis is severe, I don't lose hope. I love to write. I want to write a book. My life has been one big drama after another. It would make a good story and a good educational book. It would also be good for me, to leave something behind so my children know the reasons for my behaviors and moods.