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Occupational therapy and supported employment: is there any added value?

Becky Priest (Based at the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Brighton, UK)
Kate Bones (Based at the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Brighton, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 23 November 2012




This paper's aim is to explore the added value of occupational therapy in supported employment, demonstrated by a case study in Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.


The paper sets out the unique contribution of occupational therapy to the evidence based individual placement with support (IPS) model, through a case study of implementation in Sussex.


Occupational therapists are well placed to play a central role in embedding IPS into clinical teams, as well as supporting the work of employment specialists. They also have a wider role in championing person centred practice, and challenging negative assumptions about the work abilities of people with mental health problems.

Practical implications

Clarity of role design is crucial, with methods for assessing and monitoring competence built into supervision structures. Clinicians need to be motivated and enthusiastic about the role as well as having allocated time to carry out the discrete employment support function. The partnership between the employment service and clinical team is central to good implementation of the model.


This paper adds clarity to the role of occupational therapy in supporting people with severe and enduring mental health problems to gain and maintain mainstream employment. There is a need for the development of a more formal evidence base for occupational therapy interventions in the field of supported employment; this paper is a starting point outlining key issues.



Priest, B. and Bones, K. (2012), "Occupational therapy and supported employment: is there any added value?", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 194-200.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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