Individual Placement and Support service

Work can be beneficial to your health and recovery

Pentreath in conjunction with Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust offers an Individual Placement and Support service. The service supports individuals who are unemployed; on the caseload of the community mental health teams and who want to find and maintain employment of their choosing.

Being in employment can greatly improve peoples wellbeing by:

  • offering structure, a sense of purpose and meaning to life
  • building up confidence and skills
  • increasing social contacts
  • improving financial situations

What is the Individual Placement and Support service?

The service provides rapid, intensive and personalised support to individuals who would like to find paid employment.

It is based on 8 key principles:

  1. Competitive employment is the main goal.
  2. Job searches are based around client preferences.
  3. Anybody with a mental illness is eligible for the Individual Placement and Support service, regardless of diagnosis.
  4. Individual Placement and Support service specialists work collaboratively with community mental health services.
  5. There is a rapid job search, starting within 4 weeks.
  6. Individual Placement and Support service specialists engage with potential employers based upon client preferences.
  7. Benefits support is provided.
  8. Support is continuous (support continues once in employment).

Who can use the Individual Placement and Support service?

The Individual Placement and Support service believes that with the right support, everyone has the potential to gain paid employment. Mental health diagnosis does not predict capacity to work, the most important factor is willingness to work. Pentreath have employment specialists embedded within our mental health teams. Anyone who is a service user of these, who is unemployed and keen to work can access this support.

How is support provided?

Employment specialists have regular meetings with individuals on their caseload to identify and remove barriers to work and support individuals through all stages of their employment journey.

This includes:

  • identifying employment preferences
  • looking for job opportunities that align with job preferences
  • engaging with potential employers
  • confidence building
  • help with CV writing, job applications and interview preparation
  • seeking advice on welfare benefits
  • in-work support, including working with the employer to create a supportive environment

Employment specialists work in partnership with clinicians within the mental health teams to ensure that individuals can be supported in all areas of life. Collaborative working helps to reduce barriers whilst encouraging independence and positive wellbeing.

Success of the Individual Placement and Support service

The service is an evidence based approach and has consistently shown to be the most effective method of supporting individuals with mental health difficulties find employment.

Studies comparing the service with more traditional models of employment have found that clients were twice as likely to gain paid work and sustain employment. Clients also showed significant improvements in overall wellbeing, with improved confidence and reduced rates of relapse.

This is what some of our clients have said about their experience:

“Since finding secure employment, I feel like a new person.”

“It’s great to earn my own money and I am now pursuing a career.”

“I feel that I am on the road back to life again.”

“Giving me more confidence and self-belief to help me keep my job.”

If you would like support from the service, ask your mental health worker to refer you to the Individual Placement and Support service employment specialist in the team.

Frequently asked questions

How can work benefit my mental health?

Several studies have shown positive benefits of working on overall mental health and wellbeing. Service users report that employment can provide a sense of purpose to everyday life, helping individuals feel less isolated and more integrated in society. This can greatly improve overall confidence and self-esteem, as well as increase social circles and support networks.

Additionally, working allows individuals to address financial difficulties, which can help some become more independent and reduce stress.

Will going to work affect my benefits?

Going to work aims to improve your financial situation. This does however depend on your personal situation and will vary depending on a number of factors including what benefits you are currently receiving and the amount of hours you work.

Your employment specialist will be able to do a ‘better off in work calculation’ with you to determine how going to work might impact your benefits. They also have access to an Individual Placement and Support service benefits specialist if required.

How many hours of work will I do?

This will depend on your individual situation and your employment specialist will work with you to determine:

  • a comfortable routine for you
  • what the right amount of work will be best for you

It also depends on the availability of work in your chosen field.

Is self-employment an option?

Yes, your employment specialist will be able to discuss self-employment options with you and direct you to more information and advice.

Can the service help me find volunteering?

The aim of the service is to get individuals into paid employment. If you wish to volunteer, your care coordinator will be able to help you connect with a local volunteer bureau.

Will I need training before starting work?

This depends on your career goal, but it is likely you will be trained on the job. The service follows a ‘place and train’ approach where individuals seek work in a preferred field and are trained as they are working. Research shows this is the most effective method of maintaining work that is both positive for the employer and employee.

What if I do not know what sort of work I want to do?

Your employment specialist can help you explore what work you might enjoy and help you create a vocational profile. This will involve looking at your interests, work history, strengths and hobbies.

Your specialist can also help you identify practical elements of your employment preferences, such as preferred working hours and working environment.

Identifying your employment preferences is an ongoing process. We understand that preferences and individual situations change and your employment specialist will work with you to continuously adapt and develop your vocational profile until you feel you have identified a suitable area of work.

Will I receive help with writing my CV?

Absolutely. Your employment specialist will help you create or adapt a CV. They will discuss your employment history, achievements, skills and interests to help you write an informative, professional and well-presented CV. Your employment specialist will also be able to help you with addressing gaps in employment on your CV.

I am nervous about going to interviews, can you help with that?

It is very common to feel nervous about attending an interview. Your employment specialist can help you prepare by practising mock interviews, working on calming nerves, and ensuring you have everything ready for the day.

Can I still use the service if I have not worked for a long time?

Yes. Anyone who has a willingness to work can access the service, regardless of how much or little previous work experience they have had and how long they have been out of work .

Your employment specialist will work with you to identify your qualities and what you can bring to an employer, demonstrating this and a willingness to work is likely to lead to successful employment.

Do I have to tell my employee or colleagues about my mental health

It is very normal to feel nervous about disclosing your mental health to people you work with. Whether you tell your employer about your health is entirely an individual choice. Your employment specialist will discuss with you the pros and cons of disclosing your mental health with your employer, the best time to have this discussion, and how you can start this conversation.

If you wish to disclose information on your health, it is also possible for your employment specialist to mention this information when approaching potential employers on your behalf. Your employment specialist will only pass on information you are happy to share, and can work with potential employers to discuss ‘hidden job’ opportunities or vacancies or adjustments that could be made for you.

It is important to remember your rights under the Equality Act (2010), stating that employers must treat individuals equally. Employers should only use information about health to create reasonable adjustments for individuals in the workplace.

Can I still work if I have a criminal history?

The service has supported many people with a criminal history get back into employment. Sometimes it may depend on the type of history you have and the type of employment you want to go in to. Your employment specialist will be able to discuss this with you.

Will my employment specialist stop working with me once I have a job?

No, a large part of the role of an employment specialist involves helping you sustain your employment, they will maintain regular contact with you once in work.

What happens if I cannot cope at work?

Your employment specialist will work with you to create an in-work support plan and will maintain regular contact with you once you have started work. Should you feel you are not coping, your employment specialist can support you to discuss any concerns with your line manager and make any appropriate adjustments.

Links to further information


Pentreath offers a range of different projects that promote good mental health through personal development, education and employment.

Useful resources

If you would like to find out more about the service, call Pentreath on 01726 862 727.