Many people with mental health problems want to work, but face barriers to find and hold paid jobs. An important barrier is a lack of adequate education. As people with mental health problems often experience first difficulties with their mental health during their studies, adequate support is needed. Supported Education can help to prevent employment problems in the future for this particular group.
Given the importance of an integrated approach of Supported Education and Supported Employment, we selected, visited and examined six European integrative programs from which can be learned: (1) ROC Zadkine (The Netherlands), (2) VIPA (The Netherlands), (3) Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust (UK), (4) Mental Health NHS Trust SW London (UK), (5) Clubhouse ‘Fountain House Copenhagen’ (Denmark) and (6) Clubhouse ‘Finnish Fountain House Helsinki’ (Finland).
The findings from the visits to these programs were reviewed and checked by Flemish experts and practitioners during a peer review and an exchange event.
The programs either apply the IPS principles or rely on the Clubhouse model. All programs put the clients’ preferences central which results in a natural integration of Supported Education and Supported Employment. Work and study goals are asked for during an initial assessment and are continuously checked for. Employment specialists remain involved as long as necessary and are part of the mental health care team. For the study or work counseling, one can rely on specialized support. Within the Clubhouse model, there are no guidelines for an integration of Supported Education and Supported Employment. Still, members indicate that they can easily switch from one kind of support to the other.
Based on the results of this study, we developed the SAWOR model which applies the main principles of Supported Education and Supported Employment. Support is offered by both an employment/education specialist (who is connected with the world of work/education) and an employment/study therapist (who is connected with the world of mental health).
Chantal Van Audenhove, Inge Neyens & Jeroen Knaeps, LUCAS KU Leuven, Belgium