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Honouring employment aspirations


March 26, 2021

As we transform Aotearoa’s mental health and addiction system, we need to honour people’s employment aspirations. Integrating employment support in mental health and addiction services is key. However, access to this support varies across the country.

Current integrated employment support in DHB mental health services – new findings from the Insights MSD study

A recent evaluation by Insights MSD (part of the Ministry of Social Development) found that individual placement and support (IPS) employment support services in Aotearoa are effective and are reaching people who experience the largest employment inequities.

Titled Individual Placement and Support (IPS) in Aotearoa New Zealand – New insights, download a summary / full report of the study here.

Current coverage of IPS employment support integrated with secondary mental health and addiction services

Work Counts has been working with the IPS employment support national steering group to provide an up-to-date picture of IPS employment support coverage by district health board (DHB) (see coverage map below).

  • Only half of our DHBs have some employment support integrated with mental health and addiction teams.
  • Even in regions with IPS employment support, coverage is only “fair” or “low” except for four regions (Northland, Lakes, Taranaki, and Nelson/Marlborough).

Working together to increase access to IPS employment support

Increasing access to IPS employment support is a priority action in Working Matters (July 2020), the Disability Employment Action plan.

We will only be able to achieve this with health, employment and welfare collaborating and investing together; and a combination of local, regional and centrally driven actions.

This is crucial to ensuring the quality of personalised employment assistance as we scale up access.

Here are some ways we could achieve better access:

  • Locally – DHB planners and funders could contract existing employment support providers to deliver IPS integrated employment support.
  • Regionally – MSD regional commissioners could contract IPS employment support, either to start up IPS employment support in an area or to build on existing DHB-funded IPS employment support.
  • Centrally – there could be investment in funding fidelity reviews for all IPS employment support services and national data collection. This has been effective in Australia and the UK.

Making it happen

We really do have the chance here to scale up access to IPS employment support, particularly if we all work together to make it happen.

Read related article to watch the webinar and download the presentation slides by Moira Wilson with her findings. 

Read related article Government action plan prioritises scale up of IPS employment support



Map of New Zealand showing areas shaded in blue where IPS employment support can be found, with details about funders, providers and FTE staffing levels.

pdf, 796 KB


Work Counts (2021). IPS employment support integrated with secondary mental health and addiction services (map).

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