Getting people with mental health problems into work should be an NHS priority, according to the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

Its new report - Commissioning What Works: the economic and financial case for supported employment - says individual placement and support is effective and good value for money.

It would cost £67m a year in England, compared with the £184m now spent on day and vocational services for people with severe or enduring mental health problems, it says.

Spokesman Dr Bob Grove said: “Nine out of 10 people who use mental health services want to work, but only one in five actually do.

“Too many vocational training and rehabilitation services are ineffective in getting their clients jobs. Many still assume that people need a lengthy period of training and preparation before seeking open employment.”

He said the priority was to get people into work quickly, with training and support to follow if needed, and added that this would save money as more people developed careers and reduced their use of mental healthcare.

He added: “IPS should be seen as a long term programme helping people to take advantage of job opportunities when economic conditions improve.”