What is IPS?

Individual Placement and Support (IPS) - what is it?

Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is an evidenced-based employment approach that is internationally considered as the most effective approach to supporting people with mental health problems to find and keep the right work opportunity.

70-90% of people with mental health issues would like to work, but only 37% are in paid employment. For people with severe mental illness, it’s just 8%.

Access to the right job with the right support plays a key role in recovery, confidence and expands social networks.

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% of people with severe mental illness want to work

IPS aims to help people find paid jobs within just weeks of being referred to the service. Then it continues to work with both employer and employee to sustain the job placement for as long as possible, or to help the client into a different job.

IPS uses a personalised and strength-based approach and has a focus on building relationships with employers. IPS directly tackles the lack of integration of mental healthcare and employment services and the disconnection of different specialists by integrating employment specialists into community mental health teams.   

In response to feedback from people accessing mental health services and international research, the IPS sector in the UK is at a turning point due to NHS England making a commitment to expand access to employment support within the mental health system over the next 10 years. 

I know without any doubt, that without the support, encouragement, and patience, I would not be where I am today. Words cannot express adequately how the Employment Service helped me into the world of work and enabled me to start to rebuild my life. I will be forever grateful to everyone involved - IPS Client

IPS is based on eight key principles. These include a focus on competitive employment, rather than volunteering or sheltered work; zero exclusion, open to all who want to work; and close integration between employment specialists and mental health teams.

The Principles

IPS has been shown to be more effective the more closely it follows these eight principles:

It aims to get people into competitive employment – Volunteering or sheltered word are not counted as outcomes.

It is open to all those who want to work – With no exclusions based on diagnosis, health condition or benefits claim.

It tries to find jobs consistent with people’s preferences.

It works quickly – Job search starts within four weeks, even if a client has been off work for years.

It brings employment specialists into clinical teams – So that employment becomes a core part of mental health treatment and recovery.

Employment specialists develop relationships with employers based on a person’s work preferences  – Not based on who happens to have jobs.

It provides ongoing, individualised support for the person and their employer – Helping people to keep their jobs at difficult times.

Benefits counselling is included – So no one is made worse off by participating.

Why use IPS?

  • Suitable work is good for wellbeing Getting back into employment can be a vital part of a recovery journey. People experiencing severe mental illness who find paid work show reduced symptoms, gain financial independence, and have improved quality of life.
  • IPS works – Compared with traditional support, IPS has been proven in numerous studies to help more people with severe mental illness back into work more quickly. On average, people receiving IPS keep their jobs longer, earn more, and spend less time in hospital. That’s why NICE recommends mental health services to provide IPS to their users.
  • IPS helps you get a job that meets your needsIPS employment specialists tailor their support to each individual so that clients have the best chance of achieving their job aspirations. Advisers have low caseloads so they have time to offer clients intensive support.

You can find out more about IPS via the Centre for Mental Health website.

Hear our Story

Hear some of the recovery stories from IPS clients across the UK

Find services Near me

There are 17 IPS services recognised by the Centre for Mental Health as ‘Centre of Excellence”. 

"My Psychiatrist suggested that I might find it useful to speak to an employment specialist about my situation. I don’t think that I had any idea of what to expect from this referral but simply being asked the question made me feel like I might still have a working future."
IPS Service User
South West London & St George's Mental Health NHS Trust

Change minds. Change Lives

Join one of our IPS services as an IPS Employment Specialist and have the opportunity to change minds and the power to transform lives.