SWLSTG teacher An employment scheme that provides one-to-one support to people with mental health conditions to get them back into work has recorded above average results its first year.

The Individual Placement Support (IPS) approach, pioneered in the UK at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG), is well ahead of the national average for getting patients with severe mental health conditions into work. 

In England, only 7.9% of people with severe mental health conditions are in employment, while almost 10% of SWLSTG patients have jobs.

In September 2009 the IPS approach was introduced into the Wandsworth Improving Access to Psychological Therapies teams and has shown remarkable success. Of the 853 people who had received employment support, up to March 2013, 678 were either helped back to work or assisted in maintaining jobs they already had.

Miles Rinaldi, head of recovery and social inclusion, said: “Employment is important for maintaining good mental health and promoting recovery from mental health conditions.

“The Trust has well developed and respected employment support services delivering the IPS approach with very successful outcomes.”

Research undertaken by SWLSTG revealed that getting a job was the most frequently-expressed goal for people with mental ill health, who also saw it as proof that they are on the road to recovery.

The research also showed that unemployment increases the risk of people developing mental health problems and is associated with increased rate of suicide and higher use of health services.

David Bradley, chief executive of SWLSTG, said: “We are very aware that employment is an important goal for many people and that is why we place such emphasis on helping people into work.

“It is a tribute to our staff that our ways of working are being studied by national bodies looking for ways to improve the situation countrywide.”