North London Partners in health and care

£600,000 award to fund service to help people with severe mental illness find work

North Central London STP has been awarded £600,000 to fund the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) service to help people with severe mental illness get support to return to work. Five IPS workers from across the boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington will provide support to help 300 people with severe mental illness find and thrive in paid employment.

It is reported nationally that 70% to 90% of people with mental health issues would like to work, but only 37% are in paid employment. For people with severe mental illness only 7% are in employment.

The target for NCL is that 38% of the 300 residents that live with severe mental illness will start a job, with 34% sustaining the job at six weeks and receiving support for at least six months. 

The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Service employment model is internationally recognised as the most effective way to support people with mental ill health to gain and keep paid employment. It is integrated within community mental health teams.

The successful bid means that existing services can be expanded, services that currently work to a different model can be supported to become IPS compliant and new services can be developed in areas that currently do not have a service.

Paul Jenkins the Senior Responsible Officer for the NCL STP Mental Health Programme said: “IPS supports individuals to gain and, importantly, be able to sustain employment. It helps people with serious mental illness conditions to believe they can live the type of life they want to lead, and thrive doing so irrespective of their symptoms, diagnosis or previous experiences.

“For many people who have experienced mental ill-health a discussion on whether the service user is in receipt of benefits and / or in employment can be a cause of significant anxiety. By having support from the IPS workers people with serious mental illness can access employment opportunities, an important part of their recovery pathway. The integration of holistic support including clinical healthcare intervention services alongside psycho-social interventions and community support makes this model successful”.

The programme is supported by Expert by Experience a user group with lived experiences of mental ill health and accessing services. Local user forums in each borough have been involved in planning and improving the service, one group said: “If you help someone into a job they really like it means they are inspired to get up in the morning and want to manage their symptoms.”

As a key commitment in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health NHS England will double access to IPS services nationally by 2020/21, enabling more people who experience severe mental illness to find and retain employment. Earlier this year, NHS England launched transformation funding to support the national expansion of IPS services.

For more information about IPS go to: https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/case-studies/individual-placement-and-support-offers-route-to-employment-for-people-with-severe-mental-health-conditions/