Workways is a Centre of Excellence – supporting people with mental health issues to find work

Posted on 24th October, 2012

The work undertaken by Workways, a service provided by Devon Partnership NHS Trust, to support people with mental health issues to find and sustain paid employment has been nationally recognised by the Centre for Mental Health (formerly The Sainsbury Centre). Now accredited as a Centre of Excellence, Workways uses the evidence-based principles of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) to help people find employment. There is strong evidence that Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is the most effective method of helping people with severe mental health problems to achieve sustainable competitive employment. It consists of intensive, individual support, rapid job search followed by placement in paid employment, and time-unlimited in-work support for both the employee and the employer. (Sainsbury Centre Briefing no 37 “Doing what Works”). The Centre for Mental Health have selected twelve sites to be new Centres of Excellence in supporting people who use mental health services into employment. Services in Central and North West London, Essex, Shropshire, Somerset, South West London, Sussex, Leeds, Walsall, Coventry, Worcestershire, Devon and Nottingham have committed to being partners in the programme. They will act as exemplars of how Individual Placement and Support (IPS) can be implemented in localities across England. This innovative programme will see these areas demonstrate how to base their employment services for people with mental health problems on the evidence of what works best. In each site, the local mental health trust will work with partners in employment services, local authorities and other agencies to offer people effective support to get into paid work. The learning from these sites will be shared with other areas of England. “Workways has previously been recognised at a national level for innovative approaches” said Christine Wardle, Vocational Services Manager. “Being in work is vital to a person’s recovery and being recognised as a Centre of Excellence shows just how important the role of evidence-based employment support has become.” The Centres of Excellence project is based on a similar scheme developed in the US by Dartmouth Medical School, with the support of Johnson & Johnson. Both are offering their assistance to the project to ensure that we learn from international experience and share our learning with other countries.  (Centre for Mental Health 2012). Workways is the only employment service recognised as being a Centre of Excellence and using the IPS principles in Devon and Cornwall and is already showing great success in helping people find employment. To find out more about Workways visit