Black Country mental health employment service to expand support to local people

Black Country mental health employment service to expand support to local people

A local service that helps people with severe mental illness to find employment, has successfully obtained additional funding from NHS England to expand its service in the Black Country.

The NHS Five Year Forward View (2014) recognises that the employment rate of people with severe and enduring mental health problems is the lowest of all disability groups at just 7%. Furthermore, mental health problems now account for more than twice the number of Employment and Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefit claims than do musculoskeletal complaints (for example, bad backs).

The Black Country and West Birmingham Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) successfully bid for an additional £787,000 to expand the work already being done by Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, allowing it to recruit additional staff and help more people secure jobs and stay in employment.

The service, managed by Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, will expand its Individual Placement and Support (IPS) approach by recruiting six new employment specialists across the region and will focus on mental health services that provide early intervention and complex care support. The service will also recruit two additional support staff, with all roles being advertised through the NHS Jobs website (www.jobs.nhs.uk).

The employment specialists will be based within existing mental health services across the Black Country and West Birmingham, and will work directly with people who experience mental illness, providing them with personalised support and guidance to gain and retain employment. The specialists will also seek to identify well-suited roles – acting as a crucial link between employers and medical teams.

The IPS service operates across the four Black Country boroughs of Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton, and Sandwell and West Birmingham.

Dr Helen Hibbs, Senior Responsible Officer for the Black Country and West Birmingham STP commented: “We know that by improving lifestyles we can improve health outcomes, but we must also improve life chances. Supporting people to find or retain employment is key, and this extra funding will help us to support many more people in the Black Country and West Birmingham.”

The Centre for Mental Health in London recognises the Black Country service as ‘Exemplary’ for its efforts in supporting people with mental health problems get back into work.

During 2019, the service aims to support over 100 local people who experience mental illness to find and maintain employment.

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