Thousands more with mental health conditions offered job search support

The number of people who have access to a scheme that helps those with mental health conditions into work is set to increase rapidly over the next five years, NHS England has said.

Twenty-eight new local NHS areas will introduce its voluntary Individual Placement and Support (IPS) scheme, which gives people with serious mental health conditions access to coaching, advice and job interview preparation.

Job seekers are allocated an employment specialist, who helps them create a vocational profile and identify their workplace preferences and barriers to employment. This information is then used to find suitable roles.

The specialists are embedded in NHS health teams and work alongside psychologists, mental health nurses and other health professionals.

NHS England said access to the scheme will increase to 20,000 people per year by 2020/21 – double the number of people currently eligible – and 55,000 people per year by 2023/24.

An estimated 35,000 more people with severe mental health conditions are expected to enter employment by 2023/24, according to the NHS’s Long Term Plan.

On average, 30-40% of people who take part in IPS schemes go into employment, compared with 10-12% of those with a mental illness who do not, according to 20 years’ worth of research into the international IPS model. They also work more hours per month, stay in a job for longer, have higher earnings and spend less time in hospital.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England national mental health director, said: “The goals and aspirations of someone living with severe mental illness are the same as anyone else’s – steady employment and an active life.

“As the NHS Long Term Plan makes clear – stable employment is a major factor in maintaining good health and is an important outcome for recovery. Those in work tend to be in better health, visit their GP less and are less likely to need hospital treatment, which is good for individuals themselves as well as being better for the economy.”

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said that ensuring employers know how to support staff with mental health conditions is a key part of increasing the employment rate among this group of people, as will raising awareness that each individual will have differing experiences in the workplace.

“We know that being able to work is an important part of keeping mentally well for many people, and everyone experiencing a mental health problem has the right to dignity and respect, including accessing work if it’s right for them,” he said.

“We are pleased that the NHS is continuing its commitment to expanding Individual Placement and Support schemes to work one-on-one with more people across England. The IPS approach is the best evidenced and most successful way of supporting people into work because it puts the individual at the heart of the support.”

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