STEPS – leaders in mental health research, innovation and best practice

 In Community Services, Disability, Employment Solutions

STEPS provide a range of mental health services aimed at supporting and empowering individuals through their STEPS Employment Solutions and STEPS Community Services streams. They are also active in the research space, taking part in innovative research projects, cementing them as leaders in innovation and best practice.

STEPS Employment Solutions Manager Liza Brock has recently co-authored a paper in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, summarising the major developments in Australia since the first introduction of Individual Placement and Support (IPS), discussing challenges and opportunities in the mental health and vocational sectors.

The paper highlights the important role vocational activities can play in recovery and sustained wellness.

Work can provide a broad range of benefits to employees apart from just financial security. Taking part in a meaningful activity can add to self-worth and give a sense of personal accomplishment as well as enable more opportunities to meet new people, reducing social isolation.

Having a purpose to ‘get up and go’, can form a major part of a mental health recovery strategy.

Liza believes the IPS has definitely improved the employment opportunities for people living with severe and persistent mental illness.

“It has changed the way clinical teams and employment providers think about the abilities of our joint clients and the positive effect working has on improving a person’s overall health,” Liza said.

“As Disability Employment Service (DES) providers, the challenge is appropriate funding to continue to provide the level of support IPS clients require in order for them to obtain, maintain and sustain long term employment.”

The paper cites that more promising gains are currently being made in the youth mental health space compared to the adult mental health space.

“Clients that are referred to IPS when they are 14-25 have usually not been on their mental health journey for a long period, and therefore can have a more rapid recovery, however recovery is different for everyone and it does not always mean symptom free, it’s all about having the best possible life and developing strategies to cope with the illness,” Liza said.

“The older someone is, especially if they have lived with their illness for many years may take longer to be motivated to find employment due to their lack of self- confidence and belief in themselves.

“Employment goals are now included in client’s recovery plans. It can often be a change in their mindset especially if they didn’t think they were capable of working.

“Motivation is the key predictor of success for IPS – if someone wants to work, they will usually be successful in finding and keeping a job.

STEPS Employment Solutions specialise in supporting recruitment for people with injury, illness and disability across Australia.

Liza encourages any businesses that are considering diversifying their workforce and taking on an inclusive approach, to find out more about the benefits to business.

“We always look at the abilities and goals of our clients and then find the best match employer, based on their needs as a business, we want a ‘win-win” for both employer and for our clients to become valued members of their team. ,” Liza said.

“We can provide as much or as little support and training to both employer and client to achieve their goals.

“We maintain regular contact with our clients to ensure they are coping with their new employment and talk through any strategies, difficulties and successes.”

Liza says, looking forward, STEPS are using what they’ve learned through the research project for new applications.

“We are now using the principals of IPS to assist those recovering from addictions and returned veterans,” she said.

“We will continue to grow our IPS program and use our expertise in mental health to assist as many people as we can reach their employment goals.”

Liza’s message to the wider community about mental health is that there is nothing wrong in asking for help.

“Any one of us, at any time can and will go through periods of being mentally unwell, there is no shame in needing assistance and putting your hand up for help to get through these periods,” she said.

STEPS specialist, holistic approach to mental health support and advocacy has made them a leader in mental health recovery strategies, helping to overcome barriers, enabling people to achieve their goals.

They tailor support to suit each client’s needs, with support programs built on dignity and respect.

Find out more on 1300 078 377

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