Aims – To describe the employment status of people using mental health service in Pavia, Italy; to explore their employment aspirations and perceptions of support to achieve these; and to test the feasibility of working with service users as researchers. Method – Face to face interviews carried out by two service user researchers with a consecutive sample of 200 service users attending the local psychiatric outpatient department using a translated version of a questionnaire developed for previous UK surveys. Results – A higher proportion of survey participants (42.5%) were in paid work compared to the UK, but 62.4% of those in work were dissatisfied with their employment. Amongst unemployed participants, 65.2% were interested in gaining employment but only 29.3% were receiving support to do so. Support was mainly limited to referral on to a generic disability organisation. The service user researchers carried out the survey to a high standard and reported benefits from undertaking the work. Conclusions – The results indicate a need in Pavia for specialist employment support using the Individual Placement and Support approach. Further development of service user involvement in research is indicated.