Supporting People With a Mental Illness Into Work

People with a mental illness will be supported into the workplace thanks to a partnership between Western Community Mental Health Services (WCMHS) and disability employment service provider, Community Bridging Services (CBS) Inc.
The partnership which commenced in April 2018, supports individuals to gain employment through Individual Placement and Support (IPS) programs at the Western Community Mental Health Centre.

IPS is an evidence-based employment model that can play a key role in the recovery process for people with mental illness, and more widely encourage social inclusion of people enduring significant mental health conditions.The CBS Inc. Regional IPS Program Coordinator, Tim Wiseman said CBS Inc. employment specialists are co-located with mental health clinicians within the Western Community Mental Health Centre, encouraging teamwork, innovation and improved support for participants.

“Mental health and employment support is integrated, allowing your mental health worker and employment practitioner to work together and assist you to gain and maintain competitive employment that matches with what you would like to do,” Mr Wiseman said.

The Western Community Mental Health Centre is the first South Australian mental health metropolitan site to implement IPS. Suzanne Dawson, Senior Occupational Therapist and IPS Coordinator for WCMHS, said the team has been working towards partnering with an organisation like CBS Inc. to deliver IPS supports for two years. “We are really excited to be turning this preparation into real outcomes for people who endure significant mental illness”, Ms Dawson said.

“Western Community Mental Health Services are excited to be working with CBS Inc. as partners to improve recovery and employment outcomes for individuals with a significant mental issue within our local community. WCMHS acknowledges that people with a mental illness should have the opportunity to be employed and contribute to our community as part of their recovery process. I’m looking forward to hearing the positive outcomes that come out of this partnership for both the service and consumers”. Michelle Hilton, Acting Service Manager – Western Mental Health Services, Mental Health Directorate, Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN).

“Psychosocial determinants of health are very important to address for ongoing Recovery. Finding affordable, secure accommodation takes care of a range of issues. Employment is the next, fixing issues such as poverty, social isolation and lack of meaningful routine and structure. We are delighted to be in partnership with a vibrant, professional organisation – Community Bridging Services (CBS) Inc., to provide an evidence based model which provides an enhanced platform for our consumers to access and maintain mainstream, award based employment.” Vic Renigers, Team Manager, Port Community Mental Health Team.

WCMHS were awarded a UniSA/CALHN research grant which will assist in evaluation of the project. The new IPS partnership hopes to achieve similar success to rural programs delivered by CBS Inc. and Country Health SA Local Health Network in three major regional centres across South Australia. Anticipated outcomes of the program include accessing an evidence based employment program to increase the chance of obtaining and sustaining employment as well as increased engagement with clinical services and the reduced need for clinical services in the medium term as employment is obtained.

In addition, IPS emphasises employment as a component of recovery. Increased self-esteem and social networks, quality of life, better control of symptoms, reduced substance use and reduced use of mental health services (as well as generating an income) are all benefits of having a job. The IPS program is open to any person with a mental illness who is linked to WCMHS and has an interest in gaining employment, regardless of the severity of their illness.
It is vital that as a community, we get behind and support this initiative and promote success and social inclusion for all who endure mental illness.

I am observing that if you were born into a family with parents who have pretty good jobs, you are likely to have a better understanding of how to plan, how to research and know what you need and want and most importantly, how to negotiate both with the NDIA planners and with service providers. It’s not just about getting a good plan either. Spending the plan on suitable supports is a mine field. Participants are faced with a sea of potential services. Each one requires separate meetings and negotiations. This can mean a huge amount of work. For those that elect to be self-managed, be warned, not only will you need to negotiate separate service agreements with every provider at least once a year, you will need to manage every bill and item of correspondence that comes through from each as well. Additionally, those that haven’t spent their plan are at risk of their funding being reduced on plan review. For some people with a disability they have these skills to effectively self-advocate, but I’m not sure of the number of NDIS participants in this situation.

For a current significant proportion of people eligible and in the scheme, their knowledge and experience to obtain a similar outcome will likely be much less. This needs to be noted at a time when planners are still very much learning the system.

IPS Metropolitan launch 2019
Susan, Mihaela
Sascha & Lisa, CBS Inc. staff
Tim, Stacey & Herald. CBS Inc. staff
IPS Launch, Mayor Angela Evans, City of Charles Sturt

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