People in Bangor who struggle to hold down a job because of mental health problems are being encouraged to take advantage of a new support service, which is the first of its kind in Wales.

I CAN Work aims to help people in North Wales find and remain in employment in order to support their recovery from mild to moderate mental health problems.

The twelve month pilot project is being led by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board in partnership with personal support services charity CAIS, who are delivering the support in the Bangor area, and the Rhyl City Strategy, who are based in Rhyl and have a second office in Bangor. The programme is funded by the Welsh Government.

It’s the latest new service to be launched through the health board’s I CAN campaign, which aims to provide earlier support and empower people to take control of their mental health.

Research has shown that over a third of people with mild to moderate mental health problems are unemployed, and there is a growing body of evidence linking employment with improved mental health, wellbeing and quality of life.
I CAN Work is based on the principles of the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment programme, which is used across the world and is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as the leading model to help people with poor mental health into work.

It is the first time that this approach has been adopted on a large scale in Wales.

It will see healthcare professionals work closely with a network of I CAN Work Employment Specialists to ensure that employment forms a central role in people’s recovery from mental health problems.

The programme will provide intensive ongoing support to enable people to find and remain in employment, with support provided to employers to help people keep their jobs at difficult times.

Llinos Edwards, Service Improvement Programme Manager at BCUHB, said:
“We know that many people with mild to moderate mental health problems want to work, but need extra support to do so. We want to encourage anybody who is struggling to please contact us so our I CAN Work Employment Specialists can provide the intensive support required to help them find and remain in employment.”

Clarence Medical Centre in Rhyl is just one of the GP surgeries supporting the scheme, with I CAN Work Employment Specialists now working alongside health professionals at the surgery.

Clarence Medical Centre GP Dr Simon Dobson said: “We see many people with mild to moderate mental health problems every week, and we recognise that there isn’t a ‘pill for every ill’. There is strong evidence that being in work can play a key role in supporting people’s ongoing recovery from mental health difficulties.

“Health professionals and employment specialists are now working together in a much more integrated way to deliver this support across North Wales, particularly here in north Denbighshire.

“It’s invaluable to be able to work with I CAN Employment Specialists to enable people to get back to work and take control of their mental health and wellbeing.”

Visit www.bit.ly/icanwork to find out more about I CAN Work

Photo: L2R Mandy Sutton, Alison Thomas and Dr Simon Dobson.jpg