TheMHS 2014 S007: Employment and the Workplace

By August 27, 2014 No Comments

This session had three separate presentations.

You can also read the abstracts here.

First to present were Shellie Goldsmith, Claire Pye and Matt Hohua from Pou Whakaaroo. This New Zealand organisation works to find employment for people with disability and mental illness, seeking to maximize opportunities for social inclusion.

The microbusiness program run by Pou Whakaroo is a recent addition with 21 participants seeking employment. Objectives of the program included promoting recovery, developing vocational skills, identifying skills and passion, minimizing barriers to employment, and developing goals. Participants in the program were taken through topics such as marketing, business planning and goal setting.

Matt Hohua, a mental health consumer who has participated in the program, discussed his experience of now owning his delivery business. He shared his pride in being able to own a business and be his own boss.

Shellie shared that with 33% of participants now owning a business, and others in the process of doing so, the program has been very successful.  Pou Whakaroo has now created a micro-business course that they hope will help to support more people affected by mental illness gain employment in the future.

Second was Cassie Nunan and Adrian Stanley, with: The use of peer education in addressing barriers to employment for people with a lived experience of mental illness.

Cassie outlined that both the IPS and peer education models are strongly supported by evidence, so a decision was made to attempt to combine the two in a “ready for employment program”.

Adrian, a peer facilitator, said both himself and the participants benefitted from the program. It consists of discussions on stigma, resources, motivations to work, disclosure, discrimination, and accessing employment supports.

Post evaluation surveys indicated that participants experienced both reduced self-stigma and an improved perception of stigma in workplace. Adrian also reflected on his own experience facilitating groups, sharing that his own self-stigma reduced and his confidence increased.

Third to present was Tasha Broomhall from Blooming Minds. Their programs include: What role does mental illness play in the workplace and how can companies address it?

Blooming minds conducted an international study, asking people of their  experiences with sharing mental illness in workplace. They found that 40% of respondents with mental illness had not disclosed it to their workplace, with the main reason being perceptions of an unsupportive workplace.

So how does a workplace increase the awareness and support of people experiencing mental health issues? Their strategies include:

1. Creating the culture

  • Leadership awareness
  • Commitment
  • Accountability: for people’s actions

2. Identify sources of potential harm

3. Interventions

  • Preventative
  • Responsive
  • Return to work

4. Monitor and Review

Tasha addressed the importance of companies understanding the impact of mental health on workers, as well as how to implement and follow through with strategies to support and reduce the impact of mental health issues in the workplace.

Read about about Blooming minds at their website.