NHS England is expanding a scheme designed to help patients with serious mental health problems find employment.
The voluntary scheme, known as Individual Placement and Support (IPS), is being rolled out to 28 new local NHS areas, meaning eight out of 10 parts of England will have access to the programme.
Access is expected to double to 20,000 people per year by 2020/21 and will continue to expand as part of the NHS Long Term Plan – helping 55,000 people each year by 2023/24.
Patients hoping to get back into work can be referred directly by their doctor or another mental health professional, and can also self-refer.
Employment specialists offer coaching and advice, along with practical tips on finding a job and preparing for interviews. They can also search for jobs and engage with employers directly on patient’s behalf to identify well-suited roles.
The trained specialists work alongside psychologists, mental health nurses and other health professionals and can speak to potential employers about how best to support people so that they can work effectively while staying in good health.
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.
“Those in work tend to be in better health, visit their GP less and are less likely to need hospital treatment, which is good individuals themselves as well as being better for the economy,” she stated.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, added: “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.”
The health service ultimately expects the programme to support as many as 115,000 patients each year by the end of the decade.