Caption: Jacqui MacKenzie is a Consumer Participant for the Individual Placement & Support Program (IPS) at Fremantle Hospital Mental Health Service.
DIAGNOSED with a mental health illness at just 18, Jacqui MacKenzie has been living with her illness longer than she has been living without it.
Having employment has been essential to her recovery and sense of purpose.
With the help of IPS and an employment agency, MacKenzie received help to develop a cover letter, attend interviews and become more confident.
She is now an IPS advocate herself and helps people in a similar situation to find work.
Despite some troubled times in her past including hospital admissions, MacKenzie said she's in a good place now in her life.
“I try to take a proactive approach in my life,” MacKenzie said. “I try and think what is the best thing for me to do and what is the best lifestyle for me.”
How Jacqui got involved
MacKenzie became a part of the IPS program through her work on the Consumer Advisory Group (CAG) at the Alma Street Centre. This group advocates for consumers and carers of the Mental Health Service at Fremantle Hospital.
It was suggested MacKenzie first join the IPS program during a CAG meeting and was then guided through the process by staff at the Fremantle Hospital Mental Health Service.
“They were very gentle and sent me lots of emails regarding reading to do for IPS,” MacKenzie said. "I was involved at every single stage along the way.”
After spending some time in and out of work herself, MacKenzie felt it was important to be involved with IPS.
“I know what it’s like to have a job and I know what it’s like to not have a job,” she said. “I can understand from the consumer perspective what it’s like to be out of work and what it’s like to gain work.”
What skills did she develop?
MacKenzie’s involvement in the IPS program has enabled her to develop and enhance a number of different skills.
From reading and interpreting information to preparing questions and conducting interviews, MacKenzie said she’s come a long way from the beginning.
“I have learnt new skills like … public speaking which I’m quite nervous about … and I can say I’ve done it now,” she said. “I got a really good response from the Disability Employment Service Providers … so it was very successful.”
MacKenzie said being involved with IPS was very mentally stimulating and engaging, and she felt included and respected among her colleagues.
Her unique approach
MacKenzie felt very strongly about her role as a Consumer Participant for IPS and was very excited about the program being established at the Fremantle Mental Health Service.
MacKenzie provides a unique understanding in terms of what she can offer her clients.
“I just try to be the best consumer representative that I can,” she said. “I just want to give the client the best support from my perspective and what I can do with the IPS program so that they get the best benefit out of it.
“I feel quite honoured to be a part of it. I think it’s going to be very exciting for the Fremantle Mental Health Service … and I think it will help a lot of people.”
MacKenzie said employment was especially important for people with a mental illness.
“Work structures your time, you feel like you’re contributing to society, you get paid … and you have that sense of camaraderie with your workmates,” she said.
“It helps with routine and routine is very important if you’ve got a mental illness as it helps balance out your lifestyle. I am a big advocate for IPS and because I’ve been involved right from the start … I can say that I think it is a very well-thought out program."