The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) vocational service model for young people experiencing mental ill-health should be made available across Australia, a policy briefing from Orygen has recommended.
The IPS model integrates vocational support with clinical mental health care to focus specifically on supporting engagement or retention in education and employment for people experiencing mental illhealth. The Australian Government, prompted by Orygen policy advice, funded a trial of IPS in 14 headspace centres in 2016. The initiative has been expanded over the past couple of years, with 50 centres now funded to provide IPS.
Professor Eóin Killackey, head of functional recovery in youth mental health and Director of Research at Orygen, said recently published reports and research into IPS had strengthened the case for governments to embed the IPS model in all Australian youth mental health services.
“Mental ill-health can limit a young person’s ability to engage in employment and/or education, Professor Killackey said. “Unemployment has a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing – as well as long-term employment prospects.”
Even before COVID-19, the unemployment rate for young Australians aged 15–24 was 11.7 per cent; 6.4 percentage points higher than the national rate for all ages. Since then, young people have been among the hardest hit by employment loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic as they were more likely to be engaged in industries worst hit and in casual employment, Professor Killackey said.
Gina Chinnery, associate director of employment and education partnerships at Orygen, said the IPS model had proved to be two-to-three times more effective than traditional vocational services in transitioning young people with mental ill-health into work.
She said this evidence, coupled with recent reports and research into IPS, showed that governments should invest in embedding IPS in all youth mental health services Australia-wide, including headspace centres and specialist community mental health services.
“There are also opportunities to further enhance the IPS model for young people, with the inclusion of trials for vocational peer workers and integrated online career supports,” Ms Chinnery said.
“Orygen has developed and implemented prototypes of these enhancements within its own IPS services,” she said. “Vocational peer workers have, in particular, been employed to work alongside IPS specialists. Through understanding the job-seeking challenges experienced as a young person with mental ill-health, youth vocational peer workers can support young people to develop employability skills such as workplace communication, interpersonal and teamwork skills."
Last year, Orygen established the Youth IPS Centre of Excellence with generous support from RACV and in recognition of its expertise and leadership in developing and advocating for youth IPS in Australia. The centre is driving innovation and best practice through research, implementation and fidelity support, workforce training, conference and scholarship opportunities, and advocacy to engage industry, education providers and government in youth-focused IPS.
Read the Briefing Paper