Helping People With a Mental Illness Obtain Work: The Health Optimisation Program for Employment

Australas Psychiatry. 2016 Aug;24(4):337-41. doi: 10.1177/1039856216654400. Epub 2016 Jun 14.


Objective: Inclusion in work and education remains problematic for many people with a mental illness. We describe a structured programme - the Health Optimisation Program for Employment - that supported people with a mental illness to gain employment or commence studies.

Method: Twenty hours of the Health Optimisation Program for Employment were delivered to 600 individuals. Participants were asked to complete an evaluation survey encompassing vocational status and ratings of self-efficacy.

Results: Of the 364 participants who completed the baseline assessment, 168 responded to the evaluation survey 6 months after the delivery of the Health Optimisation Program for Employment. Of these, 21.5% had started a new job, while a further 42.8% were either volunteering or studying. Satisfaction with the programme was high and self-efficacy ratings improved significantly over the short term only.

Conclusions: The Health Optimisation Program for Employment requires further evaluation using rigorous scientific methodology but these initial results are encouraging in terms of vocational attainment for people with a mental illness, in the Australian context.

Keywords: employment; mental illness; peer educator; psychoeducation; self-efficacy; self-management; vocational rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Employment, Supported / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Efficacy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires