In New South Wales, Neami has developed a new program aimed at supporting consumers to gain competitive employment.
The new program, called WorkWell, based on the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support model, is demonstrating positive outcomes for consumers. WorkWell is a direct response to identified need. In a recent survey of 180 Neami NSW consumers, 70% said they would like to work, with employment, training and vocational education an integral part of the recovery journey for many.
Realising just how important employment is for consumers – with many putting it as a goal or ideal on their Good Life Albums, Neami NSW developed a successful partnership with the Western Australian Association of Mental Health, who have an IPS team, and set up an employment service at the Hurstville site.
Neami staff, including the NSW Senior Leadership Team, received training and developed a comprehensive “Pathways to Employment” program following a one-year grant from the South Eastern Sydney Partners in Recovery (PIR).
Pathways to Employment saw initial success and following two more grants; the program developed to provide two Employment Specialists in Ashfield and Pagewood. Since then the program has undergone a review and a rebrand, to emerge as WorkWell. Neami sites in Merrylands and Seven Hills have since gained Employment Specialists, and the recent HASI tender submissions included an approach utilising employment support.
WorkWell is unique in being a community mental health service that has a fully integrated IPS component. The Employment Specialist, CRSW and consumer work together as a unit towards positive outcomes.
WorkWell is voluntary for consumers, and the team do not promote jobs that consumers are not comfortable doing or that don’t interest them. Consumers receive support tailored to their employment preferences.
With the ultimate goal for participants being full citizenship, work can also provide a sense of identity, especially a feeling of identity outside of mental illness. Gaining award wage employment, where individuals feel safe, valued and part of the community, can help in finding meaning and purpose in life.
Since commencing, WorkWell has supported 133 consumers, with 71 gaining competitive employment. Other consumers have entered volunteer roles or started study or training.