Employment and meaningful occupation

The importance of meaningful occupation.

Doing things which are enjoyable, which mean something to the individual and which provide social interaction enhances well-being and promotes good mental and physical health. Therefore, taking part in activities which are identified by the individual as meaningful to them plays an important part in the Recovery journey.


Why paid work?

The benefits of work on physical and mental health are well documented; there is strong evidence that work:

  • Promotes recovery
  • Leads to better health outcomes
  • Minimises the effects of long-term sickness absence
  • Improves quality of life and well-being
  • Reduces social exclusion and poverty

Yet in 2013-14 only 7.1% of people using secondary mental health services were in paid employment. (Department of Health. (2014) Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework)

We know that employment and meaningful occupation are an integral part of recovery. Research and practice has shown that given the right support the vast majority of people with a mental illness can take up and sustain employment. The model of employment support with overwhelming international evidence is the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model. More information on the IPS model can be found in ‘Doing What Works’ (Centre for Mental Health, 2009)

Briefing 37 Doing what works


Individual Placement and Support (IPS)

Mersey Care provides IPS services for adult mental health service users in Liverpool and Sefton. In Liverpool this is Network Employment and in Sefton, Imagine Employment Service. Both services have achieved high levels of fidelity to IPS in independent reviews by the Centre for Mental Health and are part of the Centre of Excellence programme. High fidelity means that the service adheres closely to the main principles of IPS and is therefore more effective, the IPS principles are:

  1. It aims to get people into competitive employment
  2. It is open to all those who want to work
  3. It tries to find jobs consistent with people's preferences
  4. It works quickly
  5. It brings employment specialists into clinical teams
  6. Employment specialists develop relationships with employers based upon a person's work preferences
  7. It provides time unlimited, individualised support for the person and their employer
  8. Benefits counselling is included.

If you are a service user (or care for someone who uses services) and want to find out more about options regarding returning to employment and how these services can help you to get back to work you can:

  • Contact the nearest service to you for an informal chat:

For Liverpool contact

Jane Holland, Head of Inclusion and Participation Development, Life Rooms Walton, 0151 473 2764 email jane.holland@merseycare.nhs.uk

For Sefton contact

Olga Snell, Employment Services Manager, Imagine Mental Health, 07816 131 691, email o.snell@imaginementalhealth.org.uk

  • Ask your Care Coordinator or another practitioner to refer you to the Employment Advisor based within your team.


I’m an employer, what does employment and recovery mean to me?

Mental health issues at work are common, at any one time 1 in 6 of us can be suffering from common mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or stress. This costs businesses in terms of sickness absence, reduced productivity (presenteeism) and staff turnover. It is estimated that sickness absence due to mental health problems accounts for 40% of all sickness absence and overall costs for all 3 areas are estimated at £1035 per annum per employee. (Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health at Work: Developing the Business Case, 2007).

Our IPS services work with local employers to help them address these challenges and recruit and retain valuable staff. Experienced Employment Advisors can:

  • Match the right person to your vacancy.
  • Provide work place support for employees.
  • Advise on reasonable adjustments and requirements under the Single Equality Act.
  • Provide mental health awareness training.
  • Liaise with all relevant parties, managers, Occupational Health, mental health services to ensure an effective and sustained return to work for an individual employee.
  • Advise you and your employee on support from ‘Access to Work’.

Employing a diverse workforce makes good business sense – you recruit from a wider talent pool and gain positive marketing and publicity. Employing individuals who are supported by an IPS service means you have access to expert advice and support to ensure as an employer you can demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility which benefits you and your employees.

If you are an employer and would like to find out more about how Mersey Care can help you please contact Jane Holland, Head of Inclusion and Participation Development

Tel: 0151 473 2764

Email: jane.holland@merseycare.nhs.uk