Lincolnshire

Sara Brewin: Feeling supported to access paid employment

It’s quite well known that employment is beneficial to a person’s health and wellbeing. The right job can improve mental health and help protect against relapse. Despite this, many people with mental health problems fear that no matter how good a recovery they have made, their symptoms may be made worse by going back to work and have concerns as to whether they are able to secure and maintain employment.

I work as the Occupational Therapy Vocational Lead and Service Development Manager at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. This role involves leading the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Employment Service in supporting people with mental health problems to find and retain paid employment. I work with seven employment specialists who are based in the Adult Community Mental Health Teams in Boston, Sleaford/Grantham, Lincoln North, Lincoln South, Gainsborough, Louth, Skegness and Stamford/Spalding.

The service is available to people who are being supported with their mental health in the community. The Community Mental Health Team makes a referral to the IPS service if a service user expresses an interest in finding paid employment. The Employment Specialist then works with the individual to provide personalised support to find them appropriate paid employment. Help is given with writing a C.V, filling out job applications and with interviews tips and techniques. If the person wishes to disclose to potential employers that they have support with their mental health, the Employment Specialist can then support the person in the interview and provide encouragement to reduce anxieties.

This valuable support continues when an individual has been successful in gaining paid employment. The team then help with maintaining employment and liaising with the employer to ensure reasonable adjustments are made and that the person is supported in retaining that employment.

The IPS service makes regular contact with local employers across Lincolnshire to find suitable jobs that meet each individual’s needs. The team has recently visited and given information at Disability Confident events across Lincolnshire, alongside the Department of Work and Pensions, where a variety of employers attended and showed interest in the work our team provides. At these events the Disability Confident scheme is promoted, which supports employers to make the most of the talents people with a disability can bring to the workplace.

This personalised approach has proved successful in supporting people to find a paid job that they enjoy and value. For example we have helped individuals into a variety of roles such as care work and being a university lecturer.

Service users are extremely positive about this service and often thank us, saying they would never have been confident enough to go through this process alone and that they feel at ease and fully supported throughout the service.

We have won a prestigious Centre of Excellence status following a review from the Centre for Mental Health. This means we will share our best practice with new start-up services. Becoming a centre of excellence is a significant achievement for our team and I’m proud of the team’s work and dedication.

I find this work extremely rewarding and take pleasure from helping people to gain confidence and start to fulfil their potential, especially after they have experienced a variety of challenges.

If you’re a service user and are thinking about returning or looking for paid employment, why not contact the Community Mental Health Team you access and see how we can help you?