Employment can reduce and/or stabilise symptoms, increase self-worth and provide an increased disposable income for those with a lived experience of mental health difficulties. Employment can reduce negative mental health symptoms and hospital admissions.
Discrimination of people with mental health difficulties is a real obstacle to finding and keeping meaningful employment. Misconceptions and low expectations towards those with a individuals can impact on recruitment and hiring opportunities.
Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Employment model
IPS Supported Employment is an evidence-based approach to supported employment for people who have a severe mental illness. IPS stands for Individual Placement and Support. IPS supports people in their efforts to achieve steady employment in mainstream competitive jobs, either part-time or full-time. This stands in contrast to other vocational rehabilitation approaches that employ people in sheltered workshops and other set-aside jobs.
IPS services are based on individual preferences. A genuine desire and motivation to seek employment is the main criteria for people wanting to obtain their ideal job. Within the IPS model an individual's personal interests, strengths, skills and experience are explored.
Core IPS practice principles
- Eligibility is based on individual preferences and choice
- Supported employment is integrated with mental health treatment
- Competitive employment is the primary goal
- Rapid job search is enacted (preferably within first 4 weeks)
- Benefits Counselling is provided
- Employment specialists systematically develop integrated relationships (with employers and MH teams)
- Support is time unlimited and individualised
- Client preferences are honored
IPS – What works?
- Build an environment for change - There may be varied reactions from management, clinicians, support staff, consumers, family and the wider community so it is important to build a strong consensus prior to implementation. Determine who will be informed, who will be the leaders, drivers and champions and build a network of key stakeholders in the implementation process.
- Increase knowledge about the IPS model - Disseminate information to motivated and supportive team members and key stakeholders. Distribute inspiring employment materials throughout mental health services. Everyone involved should become conversant with the fidelity scale and the core practice principles of IPS.
- Seek executive management approval - Strong leadership and senior endorsement is critical to IPS uptake. Executive management must be involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the program.
- Identify a potential IPS site coordinator - This person will continuously reinforce the benefits of employment as a vehicle of recovery, they will remain up to date with IPS research and literature and become familiar with international IPS initiatives. They will endorse and promote the model throughout mental health services and with stakeholders. The site coordinator will play a critical role in driving key activities during implementation and ensures monitoring and evaluation occurs at steering committee level. The site coordinator must have strong business links/skills in order for this position to be successful.
- Self-Assessment of mental health services - Mental health services have their own scope and capacity, identify along with staff which mental health team(s) have the capacity to implement and host an IPS employment specialist. Resources must be available to support the role e.g. office space, desk, chair laptop, mobile phone.
- Identify all MH service providers in your CHO region.
- Referrals to IPS may come through mental health teams but may also be made through community MH support services, self-referral, employer referral and education providers.
- Host an internal IPS forum - Have a senior manager launch the forum and present to the team. It is important to talk about management expectations and commitment to the IPS program.