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Research program to help people in the DTES get jobs

A new research program is looking at innovative approaches to support people with mental health and addictions issues in finding and keeping suitable jobs, with $364,235 in government funding.

“At its heart, this research project is about helping people find and keep meaningful employment by meeting them where they are and providing them with wraparound supports,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We know that when people get jobs where they feel valued, it improves their quality of life, provides a sense of purpose and enhances self-esteem and social belonging.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association – Vancouver Fraser Branch, in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia, is conducting research to better understand the unique labour market issues of the Downtown Eastside and influence how care services are provided to at-risk people. The project concludes in February 2020.

The project team is examining individual placement and support (IPS) and peer support to increase access to employment. IPS has been extensively researched internationally and proven to be effective compared to standard employment services. This B.C.-based research will be groundbreaking, as it uses medical professionals as an entry point to service delivery. 

“Our vision is to embed social and health services in a one-stop integrated model of care for people living in the Downtown Eastside,” said Skye Barbic, lead scientist, University of British Columbia. “To date, little work has focused on the impact of employment as a health and social intervention. Our project aims to bring together systems that are traditionally difficult to navigate for people living in the Downtown Eastside.” 

“People with mental illness who choose to work deserve to have the support they need in order to be successful,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “When people are working, they feel connected. We all understand that meaningful employment is important to people’s lives.”

Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and social workers at the Downtown Community Health Centre refer patients to the program, which is housed just across the street. Of the 72 participants, half will receive this approach and half will receive treatment in the form of traditional employment supports.

“To our knowledge, no study or project has examined individual placement and support embedded in primary care settings for complex populations and few have looked at the value of adding peer support to individual placement and support,” said Michael Anhorn, executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association – Vancouver Fraser Branch. “This project complements the redesign of downtown primary care services and is an expansion of the longstanding partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association to provide individual placement and support services.”

Through IPS, participants receive supportive entry into the workforce based on their personal needs. Employers are also supported in navigating any challenges that arise. Wraparound services include housing support, help getting identification, filing taxes, support with social relationships, money management, financial planning, debt consolidation and mental health and substance-use support.

Quick Facts:

  • The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is providing $364,235 through the Research and Innovation stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP’s goal is to increase employment and work experience opportunities in communities throughout B.C.
  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects around B.C. in 2019-20.

Learn More:

Learn how CEPs are helping local communities: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Canadian Mental Health Association: https://cmha.ca/


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