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February 2014

Get into work

Welcome to the Get into Work e-alert. This monthly update brings you important developments and achievements with Individual Placement & Support in WA.

In this issue

  1. North West success story
  2. Feature story with Eoin Killackey - EXCLUSIVE
  3. New IPS service on the horizon
  4. Now is the time for IPS
  5. IPS Development Unit
  6. Mentally healthy workplaces
  7. Employment an important element in recovery

North West success story

IT only took one small dream and big doses of encouragement and patience to help one young man in Western Australia’s North West find his true potential and renew his confidence.

Pete, a withdrawn and deeply shy 27 year old, was referred by Mental Health Services to IPS Specialist Jonah in one of WA’s coastal towns in April last year.

Jonah only knew a few things about Pete back then. He loved animals, wanted to work or study, and wanted to live on his own. He had little skills and experience. And he had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Jonah began to work with Pete immediately, with the help of mental health services, his psychologist, and a local organisation providing housing and transport.

By July, Pete had enrolled in Tafe to study Arts and was recently offered an apprenticeship at a local Tropical Fish Farm. This is in addition to making new friends and picking up an Aquaculture class at Tafe as well.

“The first times I caught up with Pete he could barely look me in the eyes and would sit opposite me with his head bent down,” Jonah said. “He didn’t participate well in social activities. It took me several sessions to win his trust and get him to talk about what it was he really wanted. Once he overcame his shyness he told me.”

Pete's confidence has improved with each milestone he has achieved in the past year.

“For people with these kind of challenges, taking little steps are like massive mountains for him,” he said. “He's already climbed a few of these mountains and is constantly improving.”

Surprisingly, the key to helping Pete regain his independence was working at his pace and focusing on his preferences. Jonah said there was no pressure placed on Pete, even after he pulled out of the course first time round.

“He went back, so lots of patience and encouragement is important,” Jonah said. “Gain trust and let him do the talking. Don’t put words in his mouth and allow silence. He could sit there for 20 minutes without saying anything.”

Having trust issues proved to be the biggest barrier initially for Pete. However, once Pete had a stable environment around him, support to reach his goals and reignited a friendship with his cousin through Tafe, Jonah said, “he came back to life.”

“He is a bright guy with lots of potential. If he feels well, he can do anything.”

Do you have a similar success story to share? Send it to

Feature story with Eoin Killackey - EXCLUSIVE

WHEN I first received an email from University of Melbourne Director of Psychosocial Research Professor Eoin Killackey (right) , I noticed his signature ended with the words, "Opening minds to a brighter future."

After speaking to him about Individual Placement & Support for nearly half an hour, I could tell this was one motivated man who, through his research, was helping many people to not only open their minds, but free them too.

Compared to efforts abroad, there is relatively little data supported by Australian research into IPS.

That’s why Killackey and his local trial sites have breathed fresh air into the IPS campaign.

“There’s plenty of evidence from the government which shows people with mental illness, particularly more severe mental illness, might be the largest disability group accessing Disability Employment Services, but they’re the group who do the least well out of those services,” Killackey said. “It’s really imperative to think of a different way of addressing that problem.”

Almost a decade ago, Killackey and his research team at the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre decided to look at vocational outcomes of people presenting with first episode psychosis and looking at different possibilities to help them. “We decided we would trial the IPS approach,” Killackey said.

They hired a person from the employment sector outside of mental health and randomised controlled trials were performed. “We did that trial and 85% of people who worked with her went back to work or school,” Killackey said. “In the controlled condition, where people could go to the regular job services, only 29% of those people got school or work outcomes.”

So if IPS produces such great outcomes, why is the model not more widespread?


New IPS service on the horizon

THE Western Australian Association for Mental Health is proud to announce the progress of Armadale Mental Health Services in the IPS project currently funded by the Mental Health Commission and delivered by WAAMH.

Armadale MHS were first exposed to IPS in August 2013 and have quickly executed preliminary tasks to enter into a formal partnership.  Armadale’s progression began by obtaining approval and participation of executive leadership on site.

An implementation group was quickly established and by October they hosted an Expression of Interest Forum. With a positive response from several Disability Employment Service providers, written applications and interviews, Armadale chose to negotiate with The ORS Group.

We hope to offer a full feature on Armadale in our next issue of Get into Work. In the meantime we congratulate Armadale MHS and ORS on their newly formed partnership and applaud the time and effort they put into making this a successful process.

Now is the time for IPS

COST savings. Productivity. Unsustainable.

Been hearing more of  these buzz words lately to reflect the state of the economy?

The Disbaility Support Pension, which is estimated to be costing the federal government $70 billion a year, has been mentioned frequently in mainstream media recenly.

A review into DSP and Newstart has also raised a few questions for jobseekers with mental health support needs.

More than 800,000 people in receipt of a pension have permanent conditions preventing them from engaging in the workforce.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews wants to develop strategies to reduce the number of recipients on income support.

"What we want to do is to look at whether or not people have got a capacity to work because we know work is the best form of welfare," ABC News reported Andrews saying. "We know it's good for people in terms of their psychological outlook as well."

WAAMH would like to see an investment into IPS services where those impacted by the DSP and Newstart Allowance review are supported in their endeavours in seeking sustainable employment.

IPS services take an integrated approach assisting individuals with persistent mental health issues by working in unison with clinical intervention and employment support. We would like to see more integrated IPS services across the landscape to assist people with their employment goals.

IPS Development Unit

LATE last year, WAAMH was invited to submit a Model of Service for an IPS Development Unit as part of the Western Australian Mental Health 10 Year Plan. 

The proposed unit will ideally provide a consistent and standard aspect of IPS service provision between MHS and DES providers across the state, contributing to a recovery focused sector.

The Model of Service identifies the policy alignment of IPS to the Fourth National Mental Health Plan, the National Mental Health Service Planning Framework and state sector reform directions identified in Mental Health 2020.

It's hoped the unit will provide leadership and promotion of the IPS model, implementation support and consultation, technical advice, fidelity reviews, field mentoring and training and also the collection of specific service data for evaluation purposes and quality assurance and development. 

This is an evidence based model and WAAMH believes in the importance of measuring outcomes to track progress.

We also want to ensure a positive service user experience by monitoring service delivery through consumer participation at a planning and evaluation level, participant survey opportunities and the sharing of employment success stories.

Mentally healthy workplaces

MENTAL health issues can impact people's performance in the workforce. An unhealthy work environment can result in stress and lead to the development of a mental illness. Research demonstrates diverse workplaces with non-discriminatory employment practices and equitable human resource management policies lead to improved performance.

The facts:

  • A total of 3.2 days per worker are lost each year through workplace stress.
  • Stress-related workers’ compensation claims have doubled in recent years, costing over $10 billion each year.
  • A survey of over 5000 workers indicated that 25% of workers took time off each year for stress-related reasons.
  • In relation to psychological injury claims, work pressure accounts for around half of all claims and harassment and bullying for around a quarter of claims.
  • Preliminary research shows that Australian businesses lose over $6.5 billion each year by failing to provide early intervention/treatment for employees with mental health conditions.

To counteract the negative impact of mental health issues and stress in the workplace, here are some suggestions:

  • Commitment from senior staff developing a healthy environment through mission statements and policies.
  • Promoting a healthy culture to increase staff loyalty.
  • Zero tolerance to bullying, harassment or unreasonable behavior.
  • Endorse lifestyle balance and flexibility utilising reasonable adjustments.
  • Access to supervision, counselling or specialist support.
  • Training and education for all staff on mental health awareness, stress management and communication.
  • Health and safety, ensure breaks, limits on overtime and workload, time off in lieu.

Are you working with people who require post placement support strategies?

More online resources for mental health in the workplace.

Employment an important element in recovery

AT any one moment, around 20% of the working-age population in the average Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development country is suffering from a mental disorder in a clinical sense.

In the OECD's report, Sick on the Job?  Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work, mental disorders are typically more prevelant among younger adults, women and people with low levels of educational attainment.

The more chronic a mental disorder, the more disabling it is and larger the challenges are for labour market inclusion.

There is also evidence people with mental disorders who find a job, experience significant improvements in mental health. This is in line with clinical findings that employment can be an important element in recovery.

A key workplace variable which can prevent the worsening of mental health include a line manager who supports the worker, provides adequate feedback and recognises their work effort.

However, European survey data suggests far fewer workers with mental disorders have such a manager.

Policy can and must respond more effectively to the challenges for labour market inclusion of people with mental illness. Progress can only be made by thinking beyond silos and integrating specialists and vocational supports into the first-line treatment.

Better integrated services are needed for systems to work together, to share client information and to refer clients to each other. Adequate, timely and well co-ordinated supports will require co-operation and co-ordination – at different times and in different ways – of employment services, health services, education institutions and benefit authorities.

The integration of clinical and vocational services is associated with improved employment outcomes.

According to the report, the solution probably lies in how programs are being coordinated. Promising approaches highlight enabling the mental health service to directly employ an employment specialist to help clients get and keep a job, and to implement a formal partnership between health and employment services to provide a new joint service that encompasses employment and higher education as part of the recovery plan.

WA Association for Mental Health

City West Lotteries House
2 Delhi Street, West Perth
WA 6005


Tel 08 9420 7277
Fax 08 9420 7280