My definition of advocacy is helping or assisting those within a special population acquire the services they need. I think of advocacy on the individual level. I feel this is where I would be most valuable as a human services worker and advocate. I base this decision on my first field experience. I shadowed a clinical team at Value Options and was able to aid case managers with their SMI clients. Needs for this population include education, support, treatment, housing, and financial aid.
Case managers are responsible for finding housing for clients who need it. It could be an 8, 16, or 24-hour residential, a substance abuse treatment facility, a domestic violence shelter, transitional living, a halfway house or a homeless shelter. The case manger assesses what the clients" housing needs are and seeks out the appropriate placement. Unfortunately, housing is very limited and many places have limitations or requirements. It is the case managers" job to advocate on behalf of the client to get housing placements approved.
Education is a service case manager's work hard to provide their clients. It is important for those with a mental illness to be educated about it. Case managers seek out group meetings for clients to attend on topics such as symptoms, medications, and side effects. NAMI is a great organization for SMI consumers to find education, support and advocacy. Value Options offers different groups at their clinics such as the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and peer support groups that educate on daily living skills. .
Because social services are constantly changing due to budget cuts and the like, services for this population can be difficult to come by. Case managers make use of as many resources as they can to provide services. Vocational Rehabilitation is utilized to help consumers find work. Each Value Options clinic employs a benefit specialist to advocate for the consumers regarding Social Security, foodstamps, AHCCCS, general assistance and family benefits.