Mental Health UK’s award-winning Into Work service is a ‘lifeline’

Mental Health UK’s Into Work service has recently made headlines by winning two awards at the ‘This Can Happen’ global awards ceremony. The service was named Wellbeing Provider of the Year and received the Grand Prix for the best overall entry in 2024. These awards recognize outstanding efforts in promoting mental wellbeing at work.

The judges described Into Work as “truly life-changing,” highlighting its “wonderful work” in helping people with mental health conditions return to work and regain their independence.

Why it matters

Unemployment among people living with mental health issues became a topical issue in the run-up to the General Election. There is much in this debate that we strongly disagree with, including arguments for a more punitive approach to welfare benefits. But one area of consensus is on ensuring people have access to the right support to return to work when they are ready to so. That’s why we’re excited to share the latest insights into our groundbreaking service – Into Work.

About Into Work

Since April 2023, thanks to funding from Bank of America, we’ve been providing person-centred support to help people living with mental health conditions to find jobs. We’re active in Gravesend, Harrow, and Wrexham and have received nearly 500 referrals in just a year. With additional support from Neptune Energy, we’ve expanded our services to include Employer Engagement Officers in Harrow and Gravesend. These officers work with local businesses to create sustainable job opportunities and promote a better understanding of mental health in the workplace.

But Into Work isn’t just about finding jobs. We take an holistic approach, addressing all aspects of mental wellbeing. This means we don’t just help people find jobs; we also provide ongoing support to ensure they thrive in their roles.

Building bridges with employers

An important part of Into Work is connecting with employers. We build relationships on behalf of our clients and create sustainable job opportunities. Over the past year, we’ve forged strong partnerships and created fantastic job opportunities for our clients. Working together, we’ve seen amazing outcomes.

“The Into Work service stands out for its comprehensive and transformative approach. Unlike the traditional Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model, our program offers holistic, wraparound support that profoundly impacts our clients' lives. We recognise that every individual referred to our service has a unique story, which demands a personalised and inclusive strategy. Unemployment often represents just the visible part of a much larger issue, as many face a multitude of complex barriers and challenges. Our service addresses these underlying factors, ensuring each person receives the tailored support they need.”

– Patrick Kerrigan, Into Work Employer Engagement Officer

Research findings

With the continued success of Into Work, Mental Health UK recently commissioned Egg Research and Consultancy Limited to assess the service’s impact, effectiveness, and sustainability, ultimately to inform future practice and developments.

In-depth interviews were carried out with 9 Into Work service users (6 men and 3 women) – most of whom had been out of work for over a year. Each had faced significant challenges, including mental health issues and temporary housing, including:

  • Recovering from mental health issues
  • Lacking self-confidence or fear of starting again
  • Not knowing how to get started or what jobs were available
  • A lack of good jobs nearby
  • Being demotivated by past experiences

In addition to these common issues, many had unique challenges like recovering from trauma, being on probation, physical health issues, and gaps in their work history.

Our research underscores the importance of an holistic approach to employment, considering barriers like finances, housing, health, and social connections. It’s also critical to tailor support to the individual, ensuring that it goes at their own pace, developing personalised recovery and vocational plans to help them find and keep meaningful jobs.

Service users’ experiences

Service users of Into Work have been unequivocally positive about the support they’ve received. Underpinning its success are core principles such as treating individuals with respect, being non-judgmental, and showing patience, kindness, and hope.

Crucially, our wraparound support has led to people engaging with services they had previously avoided, such as mental health services and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Supporting people in their community has also offered a transformative approach, embracing inclusivity, accessibility, and holistic wellbeing. Providing the service user with a sense of comfort and familiarity has encouraged open conversations about aspects of their lives they find challenging. This, in turn, has led to people accessing a diverse array of resources, nurturing a sense of belonging and reducing stigma – acknowledging the multifaceted nature of wellbeing.

Ultimately, this approach not only provides more accessible and comprehensive support but also cultivates a thriving environment where people feel understood, valued, and empowered in their journey toward positive mental wellbeing.

The impact

98% of our clients say the service has boosted their confidence and motivation and helped them connect with others for support. Into Work is making a real difference in people’s lives, helping them get back on their feet and into meaningful work.

“Well, first, I will say they're very professional. They care about you, they're interested in you, they are prepared to go above and beyond for you. I felt 'here's something that I can go for and experience and see how things go'. I jumped at the chance to be honest with you, because I needed a lifeline.”

“I would say Into Work is a perfect programme for someone trying to start work after a long silence. They're really helpful and supportive. They're always there for us. It's difficult to find connection with the companies who are scared as well because of the experience we have.”

– Into Work service users

In summary

Into Work is more than just an employment service; it’s a comprehensive support system that addresses the multifaceted challenges faced by people living with mental health conditions. By offering personalised, holistic support and building strong relationships with employers, the service not only helps individuals find and maintain meaningful employment but also fosters a sense of community and belonging. The positive feedback from our clients underscores the significant impact of Into Work. As we continue to develop and refine the service, our goal remains to empower more individuals on their journey to good mental health and employment.

Want to know more about Into Work?

Mental Health UK's innovative employment service

Our Mental Health Employment Specialists provide one-to-ones over a period of weeks/months, tailoring a support plan specific to the person, which can include financial matters, housing, social connectedness and much more.

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