In 2018/2019 the Living-Well-in-Northern-Sydney-Partnership delivered a new model of localized social impact and business engagement to address the topic of workplace mental health and ‘vocational recovery’. Three interrelated streams of work resulted in: 1) a unique community awareness campaign, 2) a business-centered offering, and 3) an innovative person-centered group.
The work undertaken was funded in part by the Mental Health Innovation Fund (NSW Health) which aims to increase the integration of services, and collaboration between state government agencies and other partners in delivering support for people with mental illness.
The partners included: Primary & Community Care Services (PCCS); Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD); Family & Community Services (FaCS); icare; University of Technology Sydney (UTS); and, Sydney North Primary Health Network (SNPhn).
The initial brief was fuzzy: to reduce the barriers to employment for people with lived experience.
A values-led, human-centered design approach was used throughout. During the first part of the strategic design phase partners engaged in an explorative process where they identified the three values that would guide work going forward: confidence, belief and permission (led by UTS).
In the phases of design that followed, local business leaders and individuals with lived experience contributed to co-design and co-production of concepts and outputs (led by PCCS).
Outputs were delivered in three streams:
1. Business-centred: the Have a go Hornsby business breakfast series
2. Community Awareness: the SKillness® campaign
3. Person-centred: The SKillness® group
The evaluation for the business breakfast series shows evidence of success against learning & relevancy-to-business measures and indicates that participants took away new things to implement in their workplace.
The SKillness Groups have been highly successful, with detailed psychosocial and skills based evaluations indicating that vocational engagement is improved for the majority of participants and that skills associated with vocational engagement are significantly improved (including planning and goal setting) – signifying possible life-long improvement.
The evaluation for the SKillness campaign is ongoing. Some encouraging evidence of attitudinal change was collected during a 2-week evaluation & exhibition event
SKillness Groups: The SKillness Group was designed by the PCCS Innovation Manager and specialist Social Work staff, together with individuals with lived experience of mental illness. A broad model was established based on robust academic and clinical evidence to address the experience and needs expressed and prioritised by those clients. PCCS led the pilot program as a live prototype, adjusting the model’s delivery in situ with the guidance of participants and against priority observations.
SKillness Campaign: Kimberley and Alan, who feature in the campaign, are individuals who live with respective conditions of Anxiety and Depression, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. They tell us about the ways that they have survived and thrived in the context of their whole selves – including their mental illness.
The campaign is comprised of media assets used in bus stop posters, billboards, Interactive poster screens, specialty exhibition stands, and on the dedicated SKillness website (www.SKillness.com.au).
Great thanks goes to Studio Hackett, commissioned to produce the SKillness name, concept, images and video content. The outputs are a testimony to Hackett’s deep commitment to iterative design processes grounded in collaborative work on complex problems and a deep empathy for the insights and values that underpinned this project.