By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When recovering from mental health problems, the transition from being a patient to a student or employee can be tricky. 3 On Your Side has more on one program that’s giving people a welcome dose of freedom.

Mae Harden’s life is about helping people who struggle with mental health problems. She knows their pain.

“I was sexually abused by a family member, and there was a lot of anger and fighting in my family. It was like living in hell. I was living in hell,” said Mae.

She also says the abuse and a variety of emotional issues caused her to cut and burn herself. She even attempted suicide and was repeatedly hospitalized

Mae says her life finally turned around completely with help from a program at Montgomery County Community Collage called POWER, which stands for Partnership On Work Enrichment and Readiness.

“I was treated like a normal person,” said Mae.

“She’s totally inspirational, and she’s not the only one,” said Diane Haar, the Director of the Power Program. She says the program helps people transition from mental health recovery into becoming students and employees.

“This enables people to get past their diagnosis,” said Diane.

The students learn things like resume writing, time management and how to handle a job interview.

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“Learning like just the realities of life, I mean some people learn that with their family, I actually learned here,” said Mae.

Though getting a diploma once seemed so impossible, May also graduated from Chestnut Hill College in May. She now has a job as a recovery coach, helping other people with emotional problems.

“To be able to get this was like, my life dream,” said Mae.

The 14 week program is open to anyone who is in mental health recovery. It’s free and funded by both foundations and the Montgomery County Office of Mental Health.

For more information on the POWER program, click here.

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS3

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