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Making Individual Placement and Support work

An evaluation of implementation and sustainability

Support with employment is an important part of recovery for many people living with a mental illness. Yet in many parts of the UK, effective help is not available where people live, and as a result too many people using mental health services don’t have the option of evidencebased employment support.

For more than a decade, Centre for Mental Health has been working to change that, by helping more local areas to adopt the principles of Individual Placement and Support in their employment services for people with mental health problems. In that time, we have seen the number of IPS services grow, from very few ten years ago to many more today across England. But significant gaps remain and we are seeking to ensure that no one is left out because of their postcode.

The Making IPS Work programme was a unique opportunity to bring the benefits of IPS to mental health services in areas where they previously did not exist. With funding from the Department of Health, we were able to work with mental health services in six local areas to help them to adopt the principles of IPS and help more people into employment.

This report is an independent evaluation of the Making IPS Work programme, produced by InHealth Associates. It provides invaluable learning about the process of implementing IPS in mental health services at a crucial time in history.

In 2016, the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health set out the NHS’s plans for improving mental health services nationwide. Included within it was a pledge to double the number of people accessing IPS. Our estimate is that about 10,000 people currently receive an IPS service each year in England. This welcome pledge will mean that many more people will get effective help with employment as part of their mental health support: it has the potential to change thousands of people’s lives as well as addressing the postcode lottery in IPS provision across the country.

Centre for Mental Health supported the NHS Benchmarking Network to collect information on all supported employment available for people recovering from severe mental illness and to assess how much of this meets the criteria for an IPS service. We joined NHS England in presenting webinars and six regional workshops across England where the IPS approach was described and the opportunity to participate in the programme to double current provision by 2021 was discussed. Centre for Mental Health will be ready to provide the consultancy, staff training and implementation support which these new services will need, to establish themselves as effective, high quality employment services.

The lessons contained in this report, will, we hope, inform the delivery of the Five Year Forward View pledge, and ensure that the implementation will be as effective and transformative as it has the potential to be across England.