Individual Placement and Support – A Model to get Employed for People with Mental Illness

Lack of participation in the open labour market is highly prevalent for people with a mental illness across countries, and the proportion of people who get some kind of sickness benefit because of mental illness is steadily growing in Europe. Vocational rehabilitation through individual placement and support (IPS) has been shown to be effective and is evidence-based for people with severe mental illness. In Sweden, the method is used but not scientifically evaluated. The aim was to investigate vocational and nonvocational outcomes at a 1-year follow-up and the relationships between these outcomes, at two different sites in the north of Sweden. The participants were 65 men and women, mostly younger than 30 years of age and with a mental illness. Occupational situation, psychiatric symptoms, self-esteem, quality of life and psychosocial functioning were assessed. The vocational outcome during 1 year was that 25% of the participants were employed, and 14% were in education. Most of the participants moved from unemployment to work practice for a prolonged time. Participants in employment, education or work practice at follow-up showed higher satisfaction with their occupational situation than those without regular activities outside home. Among the participants in work practice, improvements in psychiatric symptoms and global functioning were identified. This attempt is the first to evaluate supported employment according to the IPS model for persons with mental illness applied in the Swedish welfare system. There is a need for a longer follow-up period to evaluate whether interventions such as further education and work practice actually will lead to real work.