Employment program at Far West Center looking for job openings

This past August, the Compeer Program at Far West Center started a branch of the Peer Employment Support Program.  Peer Employment Support Program, or PEP, is a program that the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) and Case Western Reserve University have been working on together in the mental health services system of the state. ODMH and CWRU have adopted a well structured Peer Support Program developed by the Integrated Employment Institute in New Jersey. Peer Support Specialist Marilyn Kohn, the coordinator of PEP, met with Far West Center to organize a local PEP in Westlake. Case Western Reserve University collects important quarterly data to help the ODMH improve mental health recovery services.

The PEP at Far West Center, “Peers at Work”, meets every Monday at 3 p.m. Peers at Work offers a variety of supportive assistance to adults managing mental illness that are considering employment. Our agency’s own Peer Support Specialist, Jody Bell, facilitates Peers at Work and offers knowledge from her own career goals. This program offers support and assistance to people that are presently employed, were previously employed, or are beginning to create their paths to employment. To become a member please contact Jody Bell at 440-835-6212, ext. 263.

Peers at Work can really use the help of the community! We are looking for businesses and organizations that are interested in offering part-time employment to our members. Any amount of paid part-time hours would be a great help to our mission. Some individuals look to start out with just a few weekly hours on the job. We also have some individuals that want to start out with volunteering time weekly. Please contact Denise Ayres or Jody Bell at 440-835-6212.

Part-time gainful employment is one of the best steps in a recovery path. “Gainful employment” is working at a job in the community and earning the same part-time income as all fellow employees. Working not only provides income but also increases self-esteem and ends isolation. Peers at Work is designed to help adults with mental illness find jobs where they can succeed and offer their skills to employers.

There are myths that stand in the way of persons with mental illness attaining employment. It is a myth that persons with mental illness do not have job skills. The facts show that most adults with mental illness had been good students in high school and/or college. Many hold college degrees. Many persons with mental illness have been either full-time or part-time employed and have regular work histories. Mental illness, like any other severe physical illness, causes symptoms that sometimes interrupt employment. After those symptoms are managed a person can return to work.

Among our Peers at Work members are CPAs, maintenance specialists, fashion consultants, graphic artists, customer service representatives, cosmetologists, college honors students, office managers, data input operators, dietary assistants, and more. We are providing guided support for individuals to return to their career paths or try new jobs.

Denise Ayres

Compeer Program Coordinator

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Volume 3, Issue 22, Posted 11:32 AM, 11.01.2011