Individuals with concurrent substance abuse and mental health problems easily fall out of ordinary work life, and few participate in one or other form of employment or meaningful activity. To have a job may be of huge importance to the individual - to feel useful, to have something to get up for in the morning, to be part of a social network and experience the ability to cope. Not to mention the financial freedom that comes with paid work. Without a job one may easily feel left out, which may reduce one`s self-respect. International research shows that employment and meaningful activity are important factors for recovery, quality of life and for living a dignified life. Different forms of job support included in rehabilitation programs have proven efficient in prompting clients to take jobs.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health has put a great effort into the Individual Placement and Support Program, IPS. The main objective of IPS is to help clients find ordinary employment in their local societies and to provide the individual with the support he or she needs in order to function well on the job. The model assumes a binding collaboration between NAV, community healthcare services and specialized treatment services. IPS is primarily for individuals with severe mental illness, but the model also has been applied with respect to individuals with concurrent substance abuse and mental health disorders. Studies have shown that IPS contributes to increasing the number of client getting into paid work, and that these people manage to maintain their jobs over time. The Advisory Unit will contribute in directing the public attention to employment as a meaningful activity. We shall follow the testing and implementation of IPS in Norway and write about it on our website. IPS will also be a topic in our workshops and at our conferences. To those who do not wish to or cannot manage to maintain a paid job, it is important to offer a variety of activities. The Advisory Unit will also direct attention towards these offers.