Employability interventions for people with mental health problems



This paper outlines the importance of employment to the empowerment of people who use mental health services and discusses the evidence on interventions that enable them to achieve their ambitions. Employment is both an important part and a marker of recovery for many people; however, they face significant barriers, most notably stigma and discrimination, which include self-stigma and anticipated discrimination (Thornicroft, 2006; McDaid 2008). There is strong research evidence that the most effective employability intervention for people with severe and enduring mental health conditions is the provision of individualized and intensive support to accessing competitive, paid employment followed by time-unlimited in-work support for both employer and employee. This approach has become known as individual placement and support (IPS) and has been shown in numerous trials to produce better outcomes than "train and place" methods that focus on employability rather than actual employment and can actually result in people losing confidence and motivation as the period of "preparation" becomes prolonged. Exploring the implications of this, we will argue that one of the most important things mental health services can do to empower people who use services is to make employment for those who want to work a key service outcome and measurement of performance.