Peer-Supported Economic Empowerment: A Financial Wellness Intervention Framework for People With Psychiatric Disabilities

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Objective: People with psychiatric disabilities experience substantial economic exclusion, which hinders their ability to achieve recovery and wellness. The purpose of this article is to describe a framework for a peer-supported economic empowerment intervention grounded in empirical literature and designed to enhance financial wellness. Method: The authors followed a 3-step process, including (a) an environmental scan of scientific literature, (b) a critical review of relevant conceptual frameworks, and (c) the design of an intervention logic framework based on (a) and (b), the programmatic experience of the authors, and input from peer providers. Results: We identified 6 peer provider functions to support individuals with psychiatric disabilities to overcome economic inclusion barriers, achieve financial wellness goals, and lessen the psychosocial impact of poverty and dependency. These include (a) engaging individuals in culturally meaningful conversations about life dreams and financial goals, (b) inspiring individuals to reframe self-defeating narratives by sharing personal stories, (c) facilitating a financial wellness action plan, (d) coaching to develop essential financial skills, (e) supporting navigation and utilization of financial and asset-building services, and (f) fostering mutual emotional and social support to achieve financial wellness goals. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: Financial wellness requires capabilities that depend on gaining access to financial and asset-building supports, and not merely developing financial skills. The proposed framework outlines new roles and competencies for peer providers to help individuals build essential financial capabilities, and address social determinants of mental health and disability. Research is currently underway to pilot-test and refine peer-supported economic empowerment strategies.

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