With the support of the Ministry of Social Development, Northland District Health Board are fostering employment pathways for people with mental health illness.
The Individual Placement Support (IPS) Employment Programme is the first of its kind in the Mid to Far North region. The programme integrates vocational and health services to break down barriers to meaningful employment.
Te Mana Oranga Trust delivers the service with four specialist employment coaches who work collaboratively with primary health, community mental health teams to support more people into jobs across the region.
“We can now pair people engaged with our services wanting to look for work or training options with a dedicated team to discuss and plot their career journey. We can connect them to job opportunities and employers and support them through their career development,” said Richard Bell, Vocational Lead.
“There are two really special things about Te Mana Oranga driving this pilot. The first is while this is a service available to everyone, Te Mana Oranga are a kaupapa Māori driven service making this, for Māori, by Māori.
“The second is that this is the first time the IPS model has been implemented in the Mid and Far North. This region will benefit greatly from having more whānau in employment and more money coming into the homes of people who have experienced mental illness.”
The Northland DHB Mental Health and Addictions Service will be building employment support into the broader treatment plans for people, recognising that work is a key factor in their recovery journey for themselves and their wider whānau.
“As a healthcare provider, we know that there are many factors that can contribute to living healthy and fulfilling lives. Meaningful employment is one of them. We have a zero exclusion policy here, and we are committed to helping those looking for work find it,” said Ian McKenzie, General Manager of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Northland DHB.
In New Zealand, people with mental health conditions are three times more likely to be unemployed than those without. This increases to four times more likely for people with more severe conditions. The labour force disadvantage is even more significant for Māori people experiencing mental health conditions. This heightens the risk of poverty for New Zealanders experiencing mental health conditions which often compacts together with other health and social challenges they might be facing.