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Individual Placement and Support (IPS) trials

IPS is an integrated approach to employment and mental health support that has been effective internationally. Two new trials are helping build the IPS evidence base in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Through the 2017 Budget, MSD received funding for trials involving 1,000 IPS places over four years: 500 places for adults aged 18-35 with severe mental health conditions and 500 places for young benefit recipients with mild or moderate mental health problems.

Findings from two Prototypes

In 2018 MSD partnered with Waitematā DHB and the Odyssey House Trust in Christchurch to develop two small-scale prototype IPS services for the trials. Both prototypes were subject to an implementation study which included a fidelity review. While the prototypes were not intended to assess the impact of the service (that is a role of the main trial), early employment outcomes for participants were promising.

The Waitematā DHB prototype

In the Waitematā DHB prototype, two IPS Employment Consultants joined two DHB mental health teams serving people with severe mental health conditions.

The prototype was successful in achieving a high level of integration between employment and mental health services. Clinician perceptions of the programme, and of changes in people who received IPS, were overwhelmingly positive. They reported that IPS aligned well with a kaupapa Māori approach to mental health service delivery and wanted to know more about its effectiveness for Māori.


The ‘Take Charge’ Canterbury prototype

The Take Charge prototype offered young benefit recipients with mild or moderate mental health conditions and/or substance abuse problems access to integrated pastoral care to support mental health with employment support.

Independent evaluators assessed the quality of the pastoral care provided to be high. Participants valued this aspect of the service especially, and responded positively when asked about respect for their culture and inclusivity. Evaluators and fidelity reviewers saw opportunities to strengthen aspects of delivery, including responsiveness to whānau, and made recommendations for better joining up pastoral care with employment support.


Individual Placement and Support (IPS) in Aotearoa New Zealand – New insights

This study examined the performance of existing Aotearoa NZ programmes in five District Health Boards (DHBs) where IPS employment support is well established, and looked at access to IPS programmes across the country. It found low and uneven access to IPS employment support in Aotearoa NZ, with no services in around half of District Health Boards in 2019. IPS programmes in the five DHBs examined reach the people IPS employment support is designed for, namely people who have high levels of labour market disadvantage, and, for participants in all ethnic groups, achieve employment outcomes at or exceeding international benchmarks. The findings can inform future funding decisions.

Next steps

The main trials are now underway with modifications based on the prototypes’ findings. We are undertaking a Māori-centred study that explores how IPS can be effectively delivered or adapted to support Māori to achieve equitable employment outcomes.

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