This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and it has been announced that people living with severe and enduring mental ill health in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw will soon be able to access tailored help to get back into, or stay in work if they wish to. This is thanks to more than £1 million worth of new investment through the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS).

The money will be used to deliver Individual Placement Support (IPS) through Community Mental Health Teams across all areas of the region. The IPS approach consists of employment specialists who are co-located with clinical staff in mental health teams giving personalised coaching and advice to people living with serious mental ill health who want to get into or stay in work. This consists of preparing people for interviews, providing benefits advice as well as acting as a link between patients, their employer and their mental health team. Crucially the specialists work with employers directly on the patient’s behalf to identify well-suited roles.

The NHS Long Term Plan, which was published earlier this year, makes clear that stable employment is a major factor in maintaining good health and is an important factor in successful recovery. Those in work tend to be in better health, visit their GP less often and are less likely to need hospital treatment.

The IPS employment model is internationally recognised as the most effective way to support people living with mental ill health to gain and keep paid employment, based on over 20 years of research. On average, people who receive IPS show employment rates of 30-40% compared to 10-12% in groups which receive other forms of support. Those who access IPS work significantly more hours per month, earn more and have a better job retention rate, while some show reduced rates of hospital admission and spend less time in hospital. 

Fiona Goudie Clinical Lead for Employment within the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS’s Mental Health and Learning Disability Programme said: “We know that employment plays such an important role in someone’s physical and mental health – but only seven per cent of people living with serious mental health problems are in work. That’s something we really need to change. What’s exciting about the IPS approach is that it looks at all the things that can contribute to someone becoming ill and employment is a huge part of that. This investment will enable us to help people with severe mental health problems get into or stay in work. The support will make such a difference to their lives and the lives of their families, carers and loved ones.”

£1,151,877 will be made available over the next two years and patients hoping to get back into work can be referred directly to IPS by any mental health professional from a secondary mental health service or they can self-refer where the individual is already in contact with secondary mental health services.