Trust helps almost 300 mental health patients back into work

Posted On 10 Feb 2012 at 2:55 am

The mental health trust serving Brighton and Hove said that it had helped almost 300 patients back into work.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust believes that this is the highest success rate in the country.

The scheme has been piloted by occupational therapist Becky Priest, who worked with the national Centre for Mental Health.

She used a new method called individual placement support (IPS) and said: “IPS helps people to get straight into a job based on their interests and skills and offers continued support when they take up employment.

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“Over the 12 months of the pilot the number of Sussex Partnership clients getting into paid work rose from 125 to 286 – an increase of 128 per cent and way above our target of 200.

“We believe this is an impressive achievement, especially when set against the worst unemployment figures for 17 years.”

Sussex Partnership said that IPS was developed in America and was now being used in Britain and across Europe.

Becky Priest’s role was to be a dedicated trainer for individual placement support to see if this would help more mental health patients into work. Hers was the first such role in the country.

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Lisa Rodrigues, chief executive of Sussex Partnership, said: “Having a meaningful job is vital. This applies to everyone, including those who have experienced major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or serious depression.

“Over 75 per cent of our patients of working age who are on benefits tell us that getting a job is their single greatest ambition.

“I want employers to know that people who have experience of dealing with mental illness make great employees.

“This is because, in tackling the greatest challenge anyone can face, they develop resilience, learn how to manage negative thoughts and make excellent members of any team.

“In less than a year, and despite the downturn, we and our partners at Southdowns Supported Employment have helped almost 300 people back into work.

“That is 300 fewer people on benefits, and 300 more people paying taxes and making a real contribution to the economy.

“The findings from our pilot will help employers to improve the success of their businesses by employing great people.

“Finally, through our primary mental health services, we help many thousands more people stay in work by gaining early access to psychological therapies.”

Sussex Partnership added that the latest evidence indicated that work helped people with mental health problems.

It enabled them to manage their condition better, to become more stable and to experience lower levels of symptoms.

It was in contrast with the traditional model of saying that people who were mentally ill should avoid work until they were better or symptom free.

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