Pioneering Newham scheme helps people with mental health problems into work

Pioneering Newham scheme helps people with mental health problems into work

People in Newham with serious mental health problems are being helped into employment under a landmark NHS scheme that aims to help them rebuild their lives.  

In April 2018, Newham was selected as a first wave site for the scheme. Since then, it has enabled 40 people to find work – boosting their self-esteem and helping improve their health and wellbeing.

Known as Individual Placement and Support (IPS), the voluntary scheme offers mental health patients their own employment specialist who they can call on at any time for coaching and advice, along with practical tips on finding a job and preparing for interviews.

Working alongside psychologists, mental health nurses and other health professionals, the specialists can search for jobs and speak to potential employers about how best to support people so that they can work effectively, while helping them stay in good health. Support for both employees and employers is also available for as long as needed after they start work.

Getting into work can have a huge positive impact on a person’s wellbeing and the extra support that IPS provides is often just what someone needs when they are recovering from a severe mental health problem or struggling with their confidence or self-esteem.

NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) worked with mental health charity Mind, which is headquartered in Newham, to provide the service.

A year on from its launch, it is already having a huge impact by getting people into work.

Michelle Kabia, CEO of Mind in Newham and Tower Hamlets, said: “We know that being able to work is an important part of keeping mentally well for many people, and everyone experiencing a mental health problem has the right to dignity and respect, including accessing work if it’s right for them.

“We are hugely satisfied with the help that we have been able to provide, which has genuinely changed lives and we look forward to continuing to work with the CCG to change even more.”

Imrana Siddiqui, GP and Clinical Lead for Mental Health at NHS Newham CCG, said: “It was great for Newham to be at the forefront of this project, which is now being rolled out across England.

“Those in work tend to be in better health, visit their GP less and are less likely to need hospital treatment, which is good for everyone.” 

Case studies:

AB’s story

  • AB has schizoaffective disorder and a history of substance misuse. He was referred to the IPS employment service by his community mental health team, with whom he had only engaged intermittently. However, AB was determined to change his life. He had already given extensive thought to his future and knew he wanted to find work as a support worker or social therapist. IPS support in identifying opportunities and preparing him for the recruitment process led to him receiving multiple job offers within a short space of time. He is currently completing a nursing associate apprenticeship. Last time AB met his support worker to discuss his support needs in the workplace, he expressed gratitude for the service’s flexible approach and discussed how to best juggle work with study. The relationship continues.

SK’s story

  • SK has Bipolar Affective Disorder. She had previously worked in education, but left paid employment as a result of her condition. She contacted IPS with a view to return to work and agreed with her employment specialist that any job search needed to help prevent a relapse, manage stress and rebuild confidence. This meant pairing employment goals with clinical input on how to manage stress.One of SK’s biggest strengths was her ability to pick herself back up after setbacks and as her confidence grew, she started to make good use of her own network and started identifying opportunities for herself. Joint efforts led to SK gaining part-time employment in academia.