Ex-Service personnel with a serious mental health condition are nearly three times more likely to find and stay in work if they are supported through a method known as ‘Individual Placement and Support’ (IPS), rather than other methods of support, an in-depth report published today (Tuesday 12 April 2016) finds.

Today’s report, entitled ‘Employment in mind’, was commissioned by The Poppy Factory, a leading charity that supports wounded, injured or sick (WIS) ex-Service personnel into employment, to research into the barriers to employment faced by ex-Service men and women with mental health conditions.  Produced by Centre for Mental Health, the report identifies the IPS model as the most effective method of supporting these veterans into work.

The report finds that IPS is more effective than the other main approach of getting people into work, ‘train then place’, which involves training, development and sheltered work, then placing the person in paid employment.  IPS, in contrast, gets people into competitive employment first with training and support provided ‘on the job’.

‘Employment in mind’ will be used to create a toolkit that will provide guidance for employers on supporting veterans with mental health conditions.  The free toolkit will be made available by The Poppy Factory later this summer.

The report was funded by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), whose mission is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition into civilian life, by generating evidence that will influence policy makers and service deliverers. This research by Centre for Mental Health and The Poppy Factory complements FiMT’s Transition Mapping Study Report (published in 2013), which underlined the importance of individually tailored transition pathways.  The report pulls together existing research to create a profile of veterans with mental health conditions, the challenges they face when trying to find or remain in employment, and the skills they bring to the workplace.

It finds that all Armed Forces veterans can face a range of challenges and obstacles to gaining and maintaining civilian work.  This includes: inadequate preparation for civilian employment; low transferability of qualifications and skills; difficulties adjusting to new workplace cultures; and myths and negative stereotypes.

Veterans with mental health conditions though face additional barriers to employment, the report finds. Assumptions about the employability of those with mental health conditions, as well as assumptions among employers about veterans’ mental health, can have an adverse impact on their employment prospects.

As with the one in four people in the general population who experience a mental health problem at any given time, it is likely that many unemployed WIS veterans are experiencing psychological distress.  Existing research has suggested that the prevalence of common mental health conditions amongst serving military personnel is twice that of the general working population.  There is also evidence that mental health problems can be triggered, or exacerbated, by unemployment.

The report identifies the IPS model as the most effective way of supporting wounded, injured or sick veterans into employment.  It shows that:

  • the employment rate for IPS is twice that of usual high quality vocational support for people with serious mental illness
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are nearly three times more likely get into open employment, which has no terms or periodsdefined in the contract itself, if they access IPS instead of supported employment

The Poppy Factory, which supports hundreds of disabled veterans across the country into life-changing work each year, is using the report to shape its Getting You Back to Work employability programme to provide the best possible evidence-based support to disabled veterans. It is commissioning additional research to further shape the development of its employability support and ensure it is underpinned by a sound evidence base.

Melanie Waters, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “Despite the myths and negative stereotypes, veterans have a tremendous amount to contribute to the workplace. However for a small but important minority struggling with mental health problems, finding and staying in work can be challenging. They can and should be supported back into work as part of their road to recovery and this exciting and comprehensive piece of research shows a clear way forward. Much of our work and approach already mirrors closely the IPS approach, and we will use this report to further hone and refine our models of support so that veterans are given and even better chance to apply their skills and reach their potential in the workplace, regardless of background or disability.”

Melanie will be giving a talk about the findings of this report at the Combat Stress “Military Mind” Symposium on Tuesday 19th April, along with Stephany Carolan, the report’s author. Together, they will hope to persuade the rest of the sector to join The Poppy Factory in taking the IPS approach to employment support for veterans.

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, said: “The veterans that the Poppy Factory has supported into employment have shown that they bring a wide range of skills and qualities to their employers. With support from the Poppy Factory, they have shown that stereotypes about veterans with mental health conditions are outdated and incorrect. Our research shows that the Individual Placement and Support approach holds great promise for supporting more veterans with mental health conditions into employment.”

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, says: “For ex-Service men and women, employment is a key component of successful transition back to civilian life. It is important that the type of support provided to ex-Service personnel to help them find and stay in employment is based on sound evidence. ‘Employment in mind’ provides a good deal of insight into this important area, and it will contribute to the development of much-needed employment support services based on a clearer understanding of what works.”


Spokespeople from the Forces in Mind Trust, The Poppy Factory and the Centre for Mental Health are available for interview. To arrange an interview, or for a copy of the full report, please contact Talia Cohen at The PR Office on tcohen@theproffice.com / mobile:  07887 512 840/ direct dial: 020 7284 6957.

To download a PDF of the ‘Employment in Mind’ report, please click the following link:


 About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

  • FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (‘the Fund’), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations. FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012.  Since 2004 the Fund has given more than £88 million to programmes supporting veterans. http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.
  • The mission of the FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to make a successful and sustainable transition into civilian life, by generating evidence that will influence policy makers and service deliverers.
  • FiMT awards grants (both reactive and proactive) and commissions research along three key themes: Evidence, Innovation and Collaboration.  All work is published to a high standard of reportage to add to the evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made.
  • Useful links

 About The Poppy Factory

  • The Poppy Factory provides bespoke employability support to help disabled ex-Service men and women back into meaningful employment.
  • Founded in 1922 to provide employment for wounded soldiers returning from WWI – it works with ex-Forces personnel with a variety of health challenges from all corners of England and Wales.
  • From physical challenges such as blindness and limb loss to mental health conditions, the charity has nearly a century of experience employing veterans with health challenges. This knowledge helps to inform employers so that they can make any reasonable workplace adjustments, raising the standards to ensure veterans thrive in their new jobs.
  • Veterans have a wealth of transferable skills from their time in the Armed Forces, but some will find it difficult to translate these valuable skills into the ever-changing civilian jobs market. The Poppy Factory works with other military and welfare charities to provide holistic support, transforming the lives of veterans with disabilities and their families.
  • It is estimated that, by supporting over 500 veterans with health challenges into sustainable employment, The Poppy Factory’s programme has saved society over £11m. This is based upon the 2013 Social Return On Investment report score of £2.23 for every £1 spent on the Getting You Back to Work service (Poppy Factory SROI Report, Krystyna Szplit 2014), multiplied by the average cost of supporting a disabled veteran into sustainable employment that year  (£10,000), multiplied by 500 people.
  • The Duchess of Cornwall became Patron of The Poppy Factory in 2013
  • It is estimated that there are 17,500 unemployed ex-Services personnel who have a disability of working age, so there is a great need for the ‘Getting You Back to Work’ The Poppy Factory believes that disabled veterans should never be denied the opportunity for rewarding employment.
  • The Poppy Factory also provides employment at its Richmond factory for veterans with health challenges, producing remembrance products under special arrangement with The Royal British Legion.
  • poppyfactory.org

About Centre for Mental Health

Centre for Mental Health changes the lives of people with mental health problems. We are the UK’s leading authority in mental health research. We use research to change people’s lives.

  • We identify the biggest gaps in support.
  • We discover how this can be fixed and provide the evidence for it.
  • We work with government, policymakers, service providers and commissioners to create social change.
  • We save society money and we improve people’s lives.

For more information visit www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk.