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Helping mental health sufferers in to employment


November 25, 2008

New programme helps mental health sufferers in to employment

Over 100 people suffering from mild to moderate mental health illness are feeling more energetic, controlling panic attacks and overcoming depression, thanks to a pilot programme called Link2wrk. The ultimate aim is to help people be in a better position to get back in to work.

The Link2wrk programme is a joint venture between Waikato Primary Health, Ministry of Social Development and Leading Edge Foundation. Work and Income clients living in the Waikato, suffering from mild to moderate mental health illness and on a benefit, are able to access the new service.

Waikato Primary Health's project manager, Julie Vickers, says the programme offers both treatment and support to assist Work and Income clients on their journey in to appropriate employment or training towards employment.

"This new programme offers a way for people to break through their personal barriers - whether it's a relationship break up, job loss or financial pressure that's led to low self esteem or depression - they can regain their confidence. Through a series of seminars and individual counselling people are in a better position to gain employment," says Mrs Vickers.

Work and Income's Regional Contracts Manager Lyndon Hemi says the service is new and unique to Work and Income and the results have been positive.

"The powerful thing about Link2wrk is the transformation in people's lives we are seeing and because of its success, we're expanding the programme to other service centres," says Mr Hemi.

Mrs Vickers says the programme recognises the individuality of each client.

"Where some clients benefit from learning how to settle debt or how to best manage their medication, others are learning anxiety management. Most clients have regained their self confidence and feel their future looks brighter as a result of Link2wrk," says Mrs Vickers.

According to Mr Hemi when clients are initially assessed they can be tearful and nervous, but over a period of approximately three months clients are reporting to be more assertive, less emotional and are laughing more.

"We have clients who are going to job interviews, and even some who are starting their own businesses. They feel motivated to work and are enjoying the benefits that brings."

Work and Income clients are referred by their GP or Work and Income case manager to the Link2work service provider, Leading Edge Foundation. Following assessment clients are referred to appropriate health services which may include GP consultations, counselling, motivational interviewing, pharmacist medicine education, nutritional and exercise programmes, mirimiri (holistic massage) and interpreting services. People may also be supported with other services like financial advice, interview skills, curriculum vitae writing and goal setting.

The programme has been rolled out across the Waikato region in a staged approach with South Waikato, King Country and Taumarunui services currently being developed.


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