Transition to employment for graduates experiencing mental health difficulties
The aim of this Transition to Employment project is to develop an individualised, recovery-orientated and employment-focused approach to supporting college students and recent graduates experiencing mental health difficulties in their transition to employment.
This is an innovative project between two Trinity College Services; the Disability Service and Careers Advisory Service, and an academic discipline - Occupational Therapy. This project will also form alliances with other colleges as the project will be rolled out across other Higher Education Institutes in the greater Dublin region (DCU, DIT, UCD and Marino Institute of Education)
This project has been made possible through significant funding awarded through the Genio Trust http://genio.ie/genio-trust/disability-mental-health-2013.
Expected start date for this project is January 2014.
- Proposed Project Timeline
- Year 1(January 2014- December 2014) Project Tasks
- Year 2(January 2015- December 2015) Project Tasks
- Project Outline
- Proposed Student Process within the Project
Proposed Project Timeline
It is proposed to start the project in January 2014. A pre-project stage has been identified from September-December 2013, during which preparatory tasks have been identified and are outlined below. The project tasks to be completed in year 1 (January-December 2014) and year 2 (January-December 2015) are also outlined below:
Pre-project stage (September 2013 - December 2013):
- Clearly define objectives and set tasks that allow for delivery of Genio specified and agreed aims and objectives;
- Recruitment of Senior Occupational Therapist and part-time Careers Advisor;
- Organise a meeting of all relevant Careers and Disability Staff within HEIs participating in the project to gain buy-in and support for the development of this project;
- Set up an oversight group with representatives from all relevant stakeholders, including students and external experts and within HEIs;
- Develop communication mechanisms including the development of a webpage for informing all interested stakeholders on the development of this project
Year 1 (January 2014 - December 2014) Project Tasks:
- Development of referral pathways within TCD.
- Pilot provision of individualised work-orientated approach with current TCD students (Target of 35 students - Strand 1)
- Pilot of model of support for recent graduates (Target of 10 students - Strand 2)
- Development of online resources including ' Work Self-Management Tool' for students and recent graduates (Strand 1& 3)
- Development of a student/graduate led peer support service incorporating input from current students and recent graduates. (Strand 3)
- Recruitment and training of graduate mentors.
- Identifying prospective employers through the respective careers and disability organisations. (Strand 1 & 2)
- Planning phase for the provision of the approach with the relevant disability and careers staff with DCU / DIT / UCD and Marino Institute of Education
Year 2 (January 2015- December 2015) Project Tasks:
- Increased provision of individualised work-orientated approach with current students from TCD / DCU / DIT / UCD and Marino Institute of Education (Target of 150 students)
- Provision of support for recent graduates in their first year of work (Target of 30 students)
- Pilot of student/graduate led peer support on-line service involving current students and recent graduates
- Education and Training of existing Staff and embedding of project with the structures and systems of the five HEIs
- Share findings with other HEIs nationally and interested agencies
- Evaluation of the Project and dissemination of outcomes of the pilot project - June Symposium 2015.
In line with the aims and objectives of this project, a three strand approach will be adopted to support students in their transition to employment. The three strands are as follows:
Strand 1: The development of an undergraduate student strand where students would have access to a specialist work orientated Occupational Therapist and a specialist careers advisor during their college journey. This aims to enable the student to focus on managing their disability as they seek, apply and transition to work. This will also enable the student to manage the disclosure of a mental health difficulty and negotiate reasonable accommodations in the acquisition of relevant work experiences during their college course, as well as exploring job expectations and preparation for the world of work.
Strand 2: The development of a strand for recent graduates to be supported in their first year of work through a long arm method of support through the use of on-line resources and if required access to individualised support from an Occupational Therapist and a specialist careers advisor.
Strand 3: The development of a student/graduate led peer support involving current students and recent graduates.
The proposed project will initiate the planning process for the transition into the workplace when the student enters college and to ensure that the student's experiences throughout college are where possible linked to his/ her career pathway. The process aims to enable and empower students to begin the process of thinking about work and building experiences and work opportunities that are relevant to them. The project also aims to support them in their first year post graduation in applying what they have learned throughout the process within the workplace. Each process will be unique to each individual and flexible in meeting his / her individual needs.
Proposed Student Process within the Project:
- Access to a work-orientated OT and Career's Advisor throughout college course to facilitate engagement in work experiences based upon the student's need assessment.
- Vocational Exploration from early in the student's college career.
- Discussion of self-management of their health and well-being while in employment and reflecting upon these work experiences to develop self-awareness of work and self-management skills while in employment.
- Completion of the online 'Work Self-Management Tool' independently or with support from the specialist Careers Advisor and OT as required. Discussion of the outcomes of this process with OT and specialist Careers Advisor.
- Provision of a review document based upon the needs assessment component of the 'Work Self-Management Tool'.
- Based upon these areas identified in the 'Work Self-Management Tool', access to practical sessions with the Careers Advisor (e.g. CV formulation, interview skills, disclosure, negotiating reasonable accommodation, employment and equality legislation etc.) and with the OT (e.g. developing personal strategies to maintain their health and well-being while in employment, self-monitoring, self-advocacy, identifying reasonable accommodation, etc.)
- Connection to Careers Advisor and faculty members in the students desired area of work as required.
- Access to peer support with other students and recent graduates now in the workplace.
- Support through the process of job searching, recruitment and if obtained, in employment during the first year after graduation.
- Re-evaluation of the process and needs assessment when the student is within his / her specific work setting in the initial year post-graduation.
As a result of this grant, we hope to achieve a sustainable, individualised support approach for students experiencing mental health difficulties in their transition to employment. The main change for individuals will be that they will be continuously supported in their transition from education into employment and will have developed strategies in managing their disability within the work environment. For the services and HEIs, it allows us to develop phase three of the project (transition to employment for students with mental health difficulties, ADHD or ASD), utilising expertise within the Unilink Service, the Disability Service and the Careers Advisory Service, which strengthens the relationships between all stakeholders in delivering a cohesive and comprehensive model. It allows a model of support to be developed and replicated across other Higher Education Institutes within the Dublin region with which we have developed service level agreements (HEI's include; Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Marino Institute of Education, and University College Dublin).
In line with best practice, this project will contain an evidence based research element to track students on their journey as they transition with the aim of including the student's narrative.
This project aims to move the ownership of the transition to employment process to the individual student within a supported framework, by developing a clearly delineated approach which combines work-orientated and self-management elements. The student will have access to support as required through the OT and Careers Advisor. The development of an online tool which is envisioned to be completed by each individual student throughout the process seeks to develop self-awareness and self-management skills and is intended to give the student a clear outcome of the process that they can take with them into the workplace. The clarity provided by going through this process and having this outcome is the basis for increasing self-confidence in discussing mental health difficulties with employers and in negotiating reasonable accommodation as required.
Individuals and organisations involved in the partnership or consortium
- Mr Declan Treanor, Disability Service Director, Trinity College Dublin
- Dr Clodagh Nolan, Unilink Service Director.
- Mr Sean Gannon, Director, Careers Advisory Service, Trinity College Dublin
- Dr Claire Bohan, Director, Student Support and Development, and Ms Anne O'Connor, Head of Disability Service, Dublin City University,
- Yvonne McLoughlin, Head of Careers Service, Dublin City University
- Mr Brian Gormley, Manager of Campus Life and Mr Bob O' Murchu, Acting Head of Disability Service, Dublin Institute of Technology
- Dave Kilmartin, Head of Career Development Centre, Dublin Institute of Technology
- Ms Fiona Sweeney, Access Centre Manager / Ms Julie Tonge, Access Centre Disability Adviser, University College Dublin, University College Dublin.
- Dr. David Foster, Director, Career Development Centre, Library Building, University College Dublin
- Dr Sean Delaney, Registrar, Marino Institute of Education
- Mr Niall Turner, Project Manager DETECT Early Intervention for Psychosis Service