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Employment as a health intervention

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Published: November 29, 2023

When it comes to employment, we know a paid job can be a key part of helping tāngata whai ora maintain wellbeing.

Employment is good for mental health

Not only does employment contribute to income, it can also build self-esteem and confidence. For many people, work can be good for their health and can give a sense of purpose in life.

With the right support, people with mental distress can, and do, perform well in the workplace. They can continue to be highly effective employees and a long-term asset for businesses. Most people who have an experience of mental illness recover and return to work very successfully.

Following the evidence – employment works

Individual placement and support (IPS) is an evidence-based approach to helping people find and stay in work. Integrated with mental health treatment and support, the approach is proven to work and is used across the world.

IPS was originally developed for people experiencing mental illness and has since been tested in the fields of addiction, corrections, military and some long-term physical injuries. More than 20 randomised controlled trials and 30 years of evidence have shown that IPS is a very effective form of employment assistance for people with mental health conditions.

What can you expect from IPS programmes?
  • A warm welcome.
  •  Experience of employment support tailored to you and your individual needs.
  • A focus on your strengths and skills when identifying jobs and career options.
  • Your mental health team ensuring care and treatment plans are aligned with employment support plans.
  • Knowledge that evidence-based, best practice principles for employment support are being used.

Employment support in Aotearoa

Just over half of the current health regions in Aotearoa (13 out of 20) have some level of employment support integrated with secondary mental health and addiction teams. There are currently five regions where IPS employment support has reached “good” or “excellent” coverage (Northland, Lakes, Taranaki, Capital & Coast and Nelson Marlborough).

How do I access employment support providers who offer the IPS approach?

Funding and accessibility differs across different regions, but you can ask your mental health clinician for options in your region. In most regions where we operate, Pathways and Real collaborate with Workwise, another organisation in our Wise Group whānau.

Alternatively, you can email for more information.

Helpful websites

Workwise Employment Agency:
Work Counts:

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