Five years, 25 partnerships, £2 million: How we helped 1,000 people with mental health problems find a job

The Mental Health and Employment Partnership marks a major milestone.

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Illustration by GoodStudio

The IPS employment model works. It helps people find jobs, including people with serious mental health problems who have been out of work sometimes for decades.

Armed with this knowledge, we set about persuading local councils, NHS funders, and others to try a new way of paying for services. And that by doing so, we could unlock funding for mental health and employment support at scale.

Some of the most transformational services fall between government silos

Our programme was by no means the first attempt to help people with mental illness into work. But previous central government programmes have had limited success. That’s partly because the way government delivers most employment support, via DWP, is disconnected to the way it delivers mental health treatment, via the NHS.

  1. We set up a performance team at Social Finance whose role is to manage the web of contracts, funding flows, provider relationships, and outcomes data that makes the whole structure work.

Delivering quality is hard — dedicated expertise and a focus on outcomes can help

The IPS employment model works. It helps people find jobs, including people with serious mental health problems who have been out of work sometimes for decades.

  • Second, we brought in a specialist operational adviser with decades of experience managing health and employment services. Our adviser was able to get under the skin of delivery problems and provide direct coaching, training and support to frontline staff.
  • Finally, by specialising in one specific model — IPS — and working with a whole range of different government agencies in different geographic areas, we have brought a level of expertise to the table that no one funder would otherwise have available.

Walking the tightrope — how we’ve balanced local ownership and national accountability

National government has the money and resources to fund services at scale, drawing on international expertise and a well-oiled machine to drive accountability and performance.

Where next?

Since our launch, there has been a revolution in mental health and employment services. The NHS in England has made an astounding commitment to make IPS employment support a core part of mental health services across the nation.

We combine social and financial insight to help our partners make a difference to enduring problems — where outcomes are poor and costs of failure high.

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