At Richmond Fellowship we are marking World Mental Health Day. The theme this year is ‘Mental health in an unequal world’. In our blog earlier today we touched on the inequities we see ahead in mental health support and how the pandemic has intensified people’s needs. We know that we are facing a difficult economic and employment situation in the UK post-pandemic, which will see more people with mental health needs requiring employment support. Our employment services are a key part of our work that can combat this developing situation. In our blog we touch on the need to keep the pressure on for services like our employment services to be scaled up quickly across the country so that we can effectively face this situation and support as many people as we can across the country.
Our Individual Placement Support (IPS) Employment Services specialise in providing support for people living with or recovering from mental ill health to find paid employment, voluntary work, education, and training or to retain their current employment. Our IPS employment advisors and specialists meet regularly with the people referred to us to not only find employment, but also develop a detailed and tailored work preference profile to ensure the work is suited to their needs. Throughout the pandemic our IPS employment services were able to help many people recovering from mental ill heath retain and find work, in what was and still is an uncertain time.
The impact of our IPS employment services is undeniable, this model of quality mental health support can have a life-changing impact on the people we support, as well as the environments they work in as we see in Zach’s story below. To show this to you, today we are sharing two recovery stories written from the perspective of our staff from our Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire IPS Employment Service.
The names in these two stories have been changed to protect the identity of the people we support.
The IPS employment specialist met Julie towards the end of the first lockdown. She had been afraid to go out, hadn’t worked for some time and had no confidence in herself. She found it hard to communicate with others due to not socialising for a long time. Initially, the employment specialist had phone calls and socially distanced walks with Julie. We came to learn how badly bullied she had been in previous corporate roles. She was very artistic and had a background in print and design and was keen to try this again. The employment specialist approached a small, family-based company in Somerset, who offered Julie an hour’s voluntary work a week. It wasn’t long before they were covering her travel expenses, wanting to give something back to reward her for the amazing work she was doing.
Shortly afterwards, the company offered her an apprenticeship. She has gone from working a few hours a week to doing 4 days a week and her confidence has grown. She now aspires for the future, and it is a joy to see how happy she is in finding a supportive employer.
The employment specialist has been working with Zach for over 18 months. In this time Zach has experienced a decline in his mental health while at work. However, by working closely with IPS, Zach has gained the confidence to remain in work.
Zach’s manager has worked closely with the IPS service to help support him within the workplace. He has requested mental health training from IPS for all employees, to allow them to have a greater understanding around mental health and how they can, not just support Zach but also each other. He has also requested extra training to learn more about Zach’s specific mental health diagnosis to help him understand how better to support Zach going forward.
Zach has stated that he would not be in work without the support that has been given to him from the IPS service and is grateful for the ongoing support.
Zach’s employer has stated that being supported by IPS has allowed them to better understand mental health within the work place which has inspired them to increase awareness and take a proactive stance within their company to support all employees to maintain good mental health.
As a result of the ongoing work with IPS and seeing the progress Zach has made, the employer has now stated they are willing to help other clients within the IPS service by offering them the opportunity to earn valuable skills to help them get back into the working environment by offering work experience in several departments within the company. Zach is going to help with the scheme and be a mentor to other clients once this scheme has been set up.
These stories are a positive example of mental health support having a huge impact on people and their daily lives. This World Mental Health Day we are calling for more of this specialist quality support, across the country. We know that it is needed, and for everyone who needs it, now more than ever.