Links to Employment helps job seekers with persistent and multiple barriers reach their goals of obtaining meaningful training, volunteer work, and/or employment. The program provides a full range of support and services that are incorporated into a comprehensive treatment plan that is delivered through a Primary Care Centre. Employment can be central to an individual’s recovery and growth as employment is a structured, purposeful activity that can enhance self-esteem and a sense of well-being within society. Employment and education are also vital aspects of fostering connection, wellness, and resilience for members of a diverse community.
Launched in 2020, the Links to Employment program is a partnership between the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC) and the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Read the 2023 news release here to learn about the new, three-year grant that will strengthen and expand the program’s reach into new BC communities. CMHA BC is thrilled to be launching the second phase of the program and continuing the implementation of an integrated system of mental health support for people with long-term experience with complex barriers to employment.
What care settings offer Links to Employment in BC?
1. Community Primary Health Care
Links to Employment is currently being delivered by four CMHA branches in BC: Vancouver-Fraser, Vernon, Mid-Island and Northern BC. Each branch has partnered with specific primary care sites and offers Links to Employment services to their clients. This approach of integrating supported employment services with primary care aims to improve the client experience and support meaningful and sustainable employment by providing wrap-around support.
2. Bed-Based Treatment and Recovery Centers
Links to Employment began at five treatment and recovery centers across BC in 2023: ASK Wellness (Kamloops), Turning Points Collaborative Society (Vernon), Connective Nanaimo, 333 Recovery (Prince Rupert) and Penticton Recovery Resource Society. Integrating supported employment services in bed-based treatment is an exciting new practice in the province and brings evidence-based supported employment services into treatment and recovery.
Who is the program for?
Links to Employment provides support to British Columbians who:
- Are registered and actively engaged with a designated Primary Care Centre
- Have a desire to attain meaningful employment and/or volunteer work
- Face multiple health and social barriers
- Are not receiving services from another Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program or mental health team
This program has been very supportive and thoughtful in listening to my needs and providing relevant resources. This program has been the deciding factor in my ability to return to work and reconnect with society again, despite my disabilities.
How is the program delivered?
Program staff are unique to each site and community, and can include:
- An Occupational Therapist who supports participants with their mental and physical wellness using a trauma-informed and evidence-based approach. Some services include but are not limited to skill building, self-management, and psychosocial assessment and intervention.
- A Vocational Counsellor who provides participants with personalized, evidence-based employment support to help participants obtain meaningful work. Some services include providing links to long-term employment opportunities, job coaching, job sustainment support, and assisting participants with acquiring the skills and/or training needed for sustainable employment.
- Peer Support Workers who utilize their lived experience and expertise, providing support to participants along their vocational and recovery journey.
Staff work alongside other clinicians in the primary care and treatment and recovery centers to connect participants to services that promote health and wellness and provide participants with individualized support in areas such as job searching, job readiness, and skill-building. These supports start right at entry to the program and may include helping participants with enhancing employment skills, job searching, seeking educational and volunteer pursuits, developing confidence, and supporting job maintenance.
Meetings occur in-person at the primary care or treatment and recovery center, CMHA BC branch, in the community at a coffee shop or worksite, or remotely via secure phone or video call.
In addition to these supported employment services, clients are encouraged to participate in the Peer Advisory Committee. The aim of the committee is to seek feedback from clients on their experience of the service and provide an opportunity for clients to influence service development. The Committee also provides an opportunity for peer connections and support.
Referrals are made directly through the designated Primary Health Care centres. Please contact the local CMHA branch to learn more. Links to Employment programs are made by staff at the primary care or treatment and recovery centers. Only participating partner agencies are able to refer.
Before the support of the LINKS Employment Program I felt defeated, confused and like I couldn’t find purpose or passion from an occupational perspective. I could not find a way to be a contributing member of society in a way that aligns with my values….the childcare industry is a career path that this program has helped me discover and is the occupational purpose and meaning I have been searching for. This brings me joy, pride and this is what I value.
Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Model
Links to Employment is based on the evidence-based IPS Model, which offers individual, customized support to participants that focuses on connecting participants with meaningful employment to aid in recovery, strengthen confidence, and overcome barriers to overall well-being. Employment support is seen as a way to enhance specific determinants of health that are related to financial stability and employment. IPS was originally developed and researched as a model to work effectively for people with serious mental illness and addictions.
The program includes a research study component led by Dr. Skye Barbic at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The aim is to understand the effectiveness of holistic IPS intervention within primary care. Through this study, we hope to gain a better understanding of peoples’ experiences of the IPS program, as well as barriers to service, and additional factors which enhance long-term employment. Interested participants can be referred to the study by their Links to Employment or healthcare professional.
In the five designated Bed-Based Treatment and Recovery Centres, the evaluation component is led by Reichert & Associates and aims to understand how the program is implemented across different community contexts and the impact of integrating these services for individuals in treatment and recovery.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 778-834-5354.
Links to Employment is funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.