Individual Placement and Support (IPS)

The most well-established method of 'place then train' in mental health is Individual Placement and Support (IPS). IPS has been shown to be more effective the more closely it follows these eight principles:

  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.

The source of these principles is the Dartmouth IPS Supported Employment Center website

A Fidelity Review is a way of checking the extent to which a service is follows these principles.

The evidence base

There is now overwhelming international evidence that 'place then train' models are much more effective than traditional approaches such as vocational training and sheltered work in successfully getting people into work.

The EQOLISE project (Burns et al 2007) compared IPS with other vocational / rehabilitation services in six European countries. It concluded that:

  • IPS clients were twice as likely to gain employment (55% v. 28%) and worked for significantly longer;
  • the total costs for IPS were generally lower than standard services over first 6 months;
  • clients who had worked for at least a month in the previous five years had better outcomes;
  • individuals who gained employment had reduced hospitalisation rates.

Centres of excellence

We have selected 12 sites to be new Centres of Excellence in supporting people who use mental health services into employment.

Implementing IPS

Implementation of the IPS approach in the UK is patchy and few places have achieved high fidelity to the model.

State Trainers in the US are proven to increase paid work outcomes for clients with severe and enduring mental illness. The success of these posts in the US has lead to the creation of a similar posts in the UK.

More on IPS:
Professor Bob Drake

Professor Robert Drake is Professor of Psychiatry and of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, New Hampshire, USA. He gave our lecture in March 2008 about the future of supported employment.

We have clips, the transcript and Bob's slides from the lecture here.

Introduction to IPS

For an introduction to Individual Placement and Support, take a look at this presentation from the BASE Conference in 2008 which explains the approach and the evidence for it.

Download IPS presentation (279 KB)

IPS on BBC Radio 4's 'All in the Mind'

Listen to the Centre's Nicola Oliver talking about IPS employment support on BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind podcast

Doing What Works

Doing What Works briefing paper cover image Doing What Works shows that Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is by far the most effective way of helping people with severe and enduring mental health problems to gain and retain the jobs they want.

But it is only effective if all seven of its key principles are in place.


Download size: 333 KB

Download 333 KB

Briefing 44: Implementing what works

Centre for Mental Health worked alongside Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Southdown Supported Employment, a not-for-profit sector provider of employment services that works in partnership with the mental health trust, to test whether locating a 'regional trainer' across both the Trust and Southdown could speed up the development and efficacy of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) within their services.


Download size: 34KB

Download 34KB