NHS set to roll out mental health employment specialists

As part of patients’ care and support package, the NHS will roll out mental health employment specialists across the country, providing £10 million to expand access over the next two years.

Employment specialists in NHS Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services offer advice about finding a job, help them to prepare for an interview and can speak with potential employers about how someone’s condition can be managed so that they can work effectively whilst staying in good health.

More importantly, the trained specialists also improve the health of people with severe mental illness, reducing the need for urgent hospital admissions and GP appointments. Research shows that type of support can free up as much as £6,000 per patient, which can be invested in other frontline care, while a new analysis of services shows that 2,300 patients have been helped into work in the last year.

Mental health employment specialists in the IPS service are part of community mental health teams, currently operating in parts of the country including Sussex, Bradford, Northampton and some London boroughs, which have seen 9,000 people in the past twelve months.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England national mental health director, said: “Helping people with mental ill health to find and keep a job is good for individual wellbeing and good for the health of our economy. Tackling severe mental illness is not just about getting medication and treatment right, but ensuring people can recover to live independently with their condition, including the reward and satisfaction of getting and keeping a job.

“In our 70th year, mental health is one of the NHS’ top priorities, and ensuring services are integrated, so people get whole-person care, means our patients get better outcomes and taxpayers are rewarded as treatment is more efficient. One in seven of us will go through mental ill health whilst at work, so delivering a safety net, to help people back in to work when they fall ill, will minimise harm and make our country’s workforce more productive.”

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