Jobseekers with Mental Illness Placed in Driving Seat
24 August 2015 at 11:39 am
Mental health experts have welcomed a Government plan to help young people with mental illness find jobs.
The Abbott Government has announced that it will spend $1 million on a one-year Youth Mental Health trial involving up to 200 Disability Employment Services (DES) participants aged 24 or under with mental illness.
During the trial young people with mental illness will work with a DES service provider to discuss their career goals and how best to meet them.
Participants will use a $5,000 “Career Account” to invest in their choice of goods and services such as counselling, training, transport, paid work experience or clothing and equipment, to help them overcome non-vocational or vocational barriers and further their employment goals.
CEO of Mental Health Australia, the peak body representing mental health organisations in Australia, Frank Quinlan, told Pro Bono Australia News that the program was a “welcome start”.
“We understand this program is about providing flexible systems early on when it’s required, and I think that’s exactly the sort of direction we need to be going in,” Quinlan said.
“We need to be providing resources when they’re need and for the things that they’re needed, and I think that a bit of flexibility around that is going to help, but we also need to be providing the resources early on so that people don’t spiral into longer term disadvantage.”
Quinlan said people with mental illness face many challenges when it came to finding jobs.
“I think it’s true to say that people that experience mental illness experience all the same problems that other people experience first, which is to say that they can experience family difficulties, accommodation difficulties, education difficulties and skill deficiencies among other things, but then on top of that I think it’s true to say that there is often a layer of stigma associated with mental illness which means that there can just be some additional challenges to both getting and finding employment,” he said.
“I think this is a start and I think what is important is that when we evaluate programs like this we take into account the long term impacts and costs, because a $5000 investment is a very significant investment today but when we take into consideration the long term costs that we might have if someone doesn’t get the sort of support that they need early and go on to have long term mental illness and possibly long term unemployment, then it’s pretty easy to see that a $5,000 investment made today can save us a lot of money in the long run and can at the same time hopefully prevent some human misery as well.”
Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield, said it was hoped the trial would “create a better deal” for people with mental illness and young people with disability.
“We want to improve the independence and participation of young people with mental illness who have been locked-out of the job market for too long,” Senator Fifield said.
“The trial is based on evidence that early investment and individually tailored initiatives can help disadvantaged job seekers.”
The trial will operate until June 2016 and it will be conducted in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, northern Brisbane, and in the northern metropolitan area of Perth.
An evaluation of the trial will be used to inform future employment services for people with disability from 2018.