People with mental health conditions and Pathways to Work

A new PSI report, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, explores how Jobcentre Plus Pathways to Work may better meet the needs of the heterogeneous mental health client group. The research draws on in-depth interviews with mental health clients who engaged with Jobcentre Plus Pathways to Work and a range of service providers working with them.

Key points:

  • Many clients were satisfied with the help they received from Jobcentre Plus Pathways to Work, though many mandatory clients felt that the opportunity to participate had not come at the right time for them. This was in contrast with voluntary clients who had experienced a health improvement and then felt better able to engage with Pathways and make the transition into work.
  • Amongst the service gaps identified by clients were a need for more guidance and information about managing the transition to work, saving and budgeting and increased proactive contact at the end of the series of six mandatory Work Focused Interviews, even for those further from work who still have health issues to address. There was also support for the development of a mentoring system where new clients could interact with former clients and learn from success stories.
  • The range of suggestions for improvement to Jobcentre Plus Pathways service delivery emerging in this research were wide-ranging, and included:
    • A desire for more positive publicity about Pathways to help reassure clients prior to their participation in the programme;
    • A plea for greater empathy, understanding and tailored provision from Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisers (IBPAs), including issues around training and support for IBPAs;
    • Better communication and information exchange between IBPAs and health professionals and better coordination of services;
    • More private Jobcentre Plus meeting rooms to help client feel that they can share their thoughts on a confidential basis;
    • Choice of group or one-to-one sessions in training and counselling services. A need to improve availability of Jobcentre Plus interpreting support;
    • Flexibility in Work Focused Interviews and referral appointment dates;
    • A wish for shorter waiting lists for the Condition Management Programme, skills training and NHS treatment.

Read the full report here.

For further information, contact Maria Hudson who led the study.