Employment services as an early intervention for young people with mental illness


Dr Geoffrey Waghorn, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Park Centre for Mental Health, Richlands, QLD, 4076, Australia. Email: geoff_waghorn@qcmhr.uq.edu.au


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.