An evaluation of a vocational group for people with mental health problems based on The WORKS framework

Danielle Hitch, Joanne Robertson, Hanno Ochoteco, Frank McNeill, Anne Williams, Kate Lhuede, Adele Baini, Alexandra Hillman, Ellie Fossey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Attitudinal, social and workplace barriers, as well as poor health, can disrupt participation in education and employment for people experiencing mental illness. The WORKS framework conceptualises support for employment and mental health in relation to three starting points on vocational pathways: Starting Out, Moving Forward, and Keeping Going and Growing. Method: The WORKS ‘Starting Out’ phase was adapted for a vocational group run in an Australian mental health service, and qualitative methods used to evaluate three consecutive programmes. Focus group data about service user participants’ (n = 20) views were subjected to content analysis. Findings: Two themes related to programme experience were identified: ‘Working together’ and ‘Experiencing structured workshops’. Four themes related to the influences of the group on recovery and vocational aspirations: ‘Work and recovery’; ‘What we got from Starting Out’; ‘Promoting vocation’ and ‘Where to next?’ Conclusion: The findings confirmed the importance of employment to people experiencing longstanding mental illness, and demonstrated that the ‘Starting Out’ programme provided a meaningful way of opening conversations about work. Co-facilitation by occupational therapists and peer workers enabled a respectful environment, which supported participants to identify transferable skills, reconnect with vocational goals and redefine themselves as ‘employable’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-725
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • employment
  • group programme
  • mental illness
  • Vocational service

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