Aim: To examine the service characteristics and effectiveness of a segregated employment service assisting young clients with mental illness in New Zealand.
Methods: The service assisted both youth and adults with severe mental illness to find and keep competitive employment. A retrospective case study method was used to examine service effectiveness with respect to employment outcomes attained by 49 clients aged 16–25 years over a 2-year period (2005–2007). These results were compared with recent national and international benchmarks.
Results: As a service segregated from public mental health services, there were no formal arrangements with local mental health teams, limiting coordination of services and reducing fidelity to evidence-based practices in supported employment. Despite an inability to collaborate closely with local community mental health services and a contract not specifically targeting youth, the service was high performing on a range of employment outcome variables.
Conclusions: Subject to some study design and benchmarking limitations, these results support the continuing use of evidence-based practices in supported employment and supported education as important early interventions for young people with mental illnesses.