An evaluation of an employment project for mentally ill people
McCollam, Allyson A.
This thesis is concerned with the rehabilitation and employment of mentally ill people. It focusses on a Community Programme which offers a year's employment to people with a mental illness. Fifty -three people recruited to the Sprout project were interviewed at various stages during their career on the project. The study sets out to evaluate the project's impact on participants, both during their employment there and subsequently. Participants' views on employment in general and on Sprout were obtained, along with details of their employment and psychiatric histories and of their social circumstances.At a time of high general unemployment, there is much debate about the emphasis work should be given in rehabilitation. In the thesis, I rehearse some of the arguments and counterarguments and consider what light the views of service -users can throw on the issue. It emerges that many mentally ill people believe that they benefit from being in work. They want to work and, given a supportive setting, are capable of doing so. However, there were few opportunities for those leaving Sprout to take up either sheltered or open employment elsewhere.The outcomes for Sprout participants were highly diverse and it seems imperative that such diversity should be reflected in a range of provision which catered for variations in ability and interest. To polarise discussion and debate whether or not work has a place in rehabilitation seems unhelpful.The project had, on the whole, disappointingly little long -term effect on the abilities and quality of life of participants. However, when viewed in the context of other research findings, these results are not surprising as rehabilitation rarely succeeds in bringing about lasting improvements in ability. Moreover, it was evident that Sprout participants often faced substantial difficulties in their lives outside work and yet received little or no support from health or welfare services. This may have affected outcome.The thesis points up deficiencies in current services for mentally ill people and suggests ways in which the employment opportunities of this group might be enhanced. It is insufficient to look only at the employability of the individuals concerned, without also considering the wider social factors which influence access to and retention of employment.