About us

The Work Counts team is made up of respected experts in the IPS field who have sector-wide and international relationships. These include leading development centres, including the IPS Employment Center (USA), the Centre for Mental Health (UK) and the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (Australia).

We are a passionate team who believe that employment supports recovery and brings benefits for people, employers and the health system when people are able to retain or return to work.

The International IPS Learning Community

In December 2017, New Zealand joined the International IPS Learning Community to improve our implementation of evidence-based practices in employment support, to learn from other countries, and to share experiences. The process of joining the community was led by Work Counts, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Development. 

The learning community has evolved over the past 16 years and now has members from the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada, England and New Zealand. 

The community includes IPS trainers, mental health leaders, family leaders and employers who all work together to better the way employment support services operate to improve people’s lives.

Meet the team

Dr Helen Lockett
Warren Elwin
Richard Bell
Philleen Dickson
Michelle Andrews
Megan Jones

Dr Helen Lockett

Strategic advisor

Helen started her career as an employment specialist in the UK and is now one of the world’s leading researchers in the IPS approach. 

Helen’s passion for making a difference is evident in the work she does within the health and welfare sectors. She provides policy advice for government agencies, the OECD and NGOs across New Zealand. She is also an international associate for the Centre for Mental Health (UK). Other strategic work includes leadership of the Equally Well initiative since 2014. 

In 2019 Helen completed her doctorate with the University of Auckland on improving evidence-based practices in employment support for people who experience mental health and addiction issues.

Highly skilled at translating evidence into practice for organisations and practitioners, she enjoys seeing the positive benefits that employment brings for people and communities. 


Warren Elwin

Strategic advisor

An experienced chief executive, Warren has spent over 20 years designing and leading employment support services and is regularly called upon to share his knowledge and expertise. 

Originally a social worker and employment specialist, he is an agent for change and enjoys taking a creative approach to making a difference within the sector. 

Warren believes that it is important to support and make links between organisations that share a passion for seeing improvements in the lives of New Zealanders, particularly those who experience mental distress and addiction issues.  

“It is an exciting time to be involved in the sector – working together provides the opportunity to make positive change for the future”, he says. 


Richard Bell

Implementation manager

Richard started his career as a nurse and has extensive experience in the mental health sector across Australasia. For the last ten years Richard has led a successful employment support team in Auckland.

Richard is skilled in quality assessment and service establishment and was a key player in implementing employment support for Auckland District Health Board.

He has a passion to see people with lived experience of mental health issues achieve their goals and believes that everyone has a right to full participation within their community.


Philleen Dickson

IPS Implementation manager

Utilising her lived experience, Philleen (Ngāti Rereahu, Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa, Tūhoe, Ruapani) has worked in various roles across the mental health sector for over 20 years, many of these years within the Wise Group whānau.

Philleen’s expertise in employment support stems from her time as an employment consultant and spending seven years in Australia implementing individual placement and support (IPS) evidence-based practice. This included implementation support for youth services at headspace as part of a national federal trial.

Having returned to New Zealand skilled in implementation support, training and in conducting fidelity reviews, Philleen is now an IPS implementation manager. She particularly enjoys mentoring and training employment support practitioners.

Philleen has a vision whereby those with a lived experience of mental health and addictions can access employment support regardless of where they live or receive health services.


Michelle Andrews

Business support

Michelle provides business support for the Work Counts team. She holds a Diploma in Business Administration and has been working in administration for over 14 years. She has experience in the building, accounting and retail sectors.


Megan Jones

Fidelity reviewer

Megan has provided employment support in mental health services for over ten years, initially as an employment consultant and more recently as an employment support team leader. Megan is contracted by Work Counts from time to time, to undertake fidelity reviews.

Megan loves seeing people grow and develop in their lives – whether that’s through working with people directly, or in leading a team of employment consultants – she wants her work to make a difference. Fidelity reviews bring another aspect to this – helping others in making a difference too.

Tailoring the process to meet Angela’s needs

By identifying her strengths and skills and focusing on a tailored approach, Angela’s employment and mental health team were able to get her back into work within a year.

Working in parallel to ensure a smooth journey back into work

Anne had a successful career and had never been out of employment, when suddenly her circumstances changed and she was facing a criminal conviction and mental health challenges.


The intensity of this model really sets it apart. It’s a collaborative, community endeavour that achieves great results.

When the Northland District Health Board (DHB) had the opportunity to establish a pilot employment programme within its mental health and addiction service they knew it was important to use an evidence-based model that was proven to work.

Work Counts supported the DHB to develop an agile model of care, where the service works closely with local community providers to find employment solutions that work for everyone involved. Staff already understood the value of employment as part of recovery and rehabilitation, but needed help with training, implementation and integration of the IPS method within clinical services.

“Work Counts gave us guidance around establishment plans, recruitment and supervision of staff, as well as on-site support to coach new staff through tricky situations that made some employment situations challenging. Working with experienced employment specialists helped clarify how we planned and implemented the service, and set up ongoing monitoring and evaluation to measure its success.”

Ian McKenzie
General manager, Mental Health and Addiction Services
Northland District Health Board

 To ensure employment is a priority for people who access mental health services you need a plan that engages everyone right across the health system.

Quality improvement was top of mind when Nelson Marlborough Health approached Work Counts about how it could improve its supported independent living work stream.

Facilitated focus groups illhttps://www.nmdhb.govt.nz/ustrated the importance of the need for targeted supported employment for people accessing our services, and their families. The process gave clear and practical guidance, and the momentum to improve our approach to keeping employment top of mind and a key part of people’s wellness plan.

“We learned that although we were doing aspects of the Individualised Placement Support framework, we still had a way to go. We want our service to help people reach their potential, and that needs more than one passionate person to make it happen.  The IPS approach helps secure employment for people by helping to guide how our services can work together in a more integrated way. The more our system is integrated, the more we work as one team with one care/wellness plan – the better it is for the person at the centre.”

Jane Kinsey
General manager, Mental Health, Addictions and Disability Support Services
Nelson Marlborough Health