Written by Dr. David Erickson, Clinical Psychologist and Thinking Skills at Work Project Lead

Last week, the Province announced that they will provide Fraser Health with $1.6 million in funding to carry out a research project called “Thinking Skills at Work”.

The single largest-ever research operating grant awarded to Fraser Health, this innovative project will test a new way to support people who are living with severe mental illness find long-term employment that fits their needs.

In partnership with the Vancouver-Fraser Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, this three-year project is based out of Royal Columbian Hospital. It will combine a new treatment called Cognitive Remediation Therapy with an existing service called Individual Placement and Support to help patients get back into the workforce. Cognitive Remediation Therapy is a promising new treatment that enhances the thinking skills in people who have severe mental illnesses. This approach is designed to improve neurocognitive abilities such as attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, planning and organization, with a goal of improved functioning.

This funding will allow Fraser Health to assess the effectiveness of Cognitive RemediationTherapy when it is combined with Indidivual Placement and Support, an existing service that includes an employment counsellor to help clients find paid work. When Cognitive Remediation Therapy is utilized during the project, treatment will focus on cognitive areas that are impeding a person’s progress to securing employment. For example, to improve memory, people will be taught how to better retain information.

Read the full news release and learn more about the Thinking Skills at Work project. We know that people with mental illnesses want to lead productive lives as members of the workforce whenever possible, and we are pleased that the Province is enabling us to assess the effects of Cognitive Remediation Therapy. This funding will help people in our communities reintegrate into the workforce and find meaningful, purposeful employment.

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