Published on: 31 May 2019

body-language-business-etiquette-businesspeople-1179804.jpgPeople recovering from mental health problems will soon benefit from almost half a million pounds of extra support between now and April 2021 to help them get back into meaningful work, thanks to new NHS funding awarded to a partnership of health and care organisations in Derbyshire.

Residents who are receiving support from community mental health teams for a severe mental illness will be able to draw on the advice and expertise of five employment specialists to help them find work and stay in work. The employment specialists will offer coaching and advice, along with practical tips on finding a job and preparing for interviews. They will also search for jobs consistent with a person’s preferences and engage with employers directly to identify suitable roles – acting as a crucial link between the individual, their employer and their medical team.

The funding has been awarded by NHS England and Improvement as part of its investment in Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services. IPS is a highly effective approach to providing employment support for people experiencing severe mental health problems. There is evidence that positive employment supports mental and physical health and is linked to longer, healthier lives; this support is particularly important for people with mental health issues as they are less likely to be able to secure and sustain employment.  

Major factor

Claire Murdoch, NHS England and Improvement 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, tend to 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.”

The funding has been awarded to Joined Up Care Derbyshire, a partnership bringing together local NHS organisations, Derbyshire County Council and Derby City Council. The five employment specialists and their service manager will be employed by Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services across the city and county and runs the community mental health teams. A county-wide IPS Mental Health Steering Group will support this work to ensure collaborative partnership working, bringing together representatives from health, social care, Department for Work and Pensions and organisations specialising in employment. 

A local resident who has benefited from the support of an IPS employment specialist said: “Having job coaches within the mental health service means it is an option on the shelf alongside other treatments for my mental health.  Seeing it there on the shelf meant that, when I was ready, I was able to select it and get back into work again. I was supported back into work, and now work part-time and have a good life balance.”  

Significant difference

Ifti Majid, Chief Executive of Derbyshire Healthcare and mental health lead for Joined Up Care Derbyshire, said: “This funding should make a significant difference to people in Derbyshire who are recovering from mental ill health and are keen to return to work. We know that a satisfying job, and the routine and social interaction that comes with it, can help to improve mental wellbeing – and yet rates of employment are lower for people with mental health problems than with any other group of health conditions. Having this specialist team will mean that people overcoming a severe mental illness will have the support and advice they need to compete for jobs and prove that they are more than capable of being successful in the workplace.”

Councillor Roy Webb, Derby City Council Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Housing, said: “I’m delighted that local residents recovering from mental health problems will be able to access support to help them back into work. We know that being in meaningful work contributes to our physical and mental wellbeing, improving self-esteem and confidence. This support should therefore support recovery and long-term wellbeing.”

The new service is due to be launched this summer. If you are a service user who would like more information, please contact your health professional in the first instance.

Employers who may be able to assist with offers of work placements or paid roles as part of the scheme should contact Karen Wheeler on