According to the Disability Rights Commission (DRC), the UK Government’s efforts to get one million incapacity benefit claimants back to work could fail unless employers are given more support in recruiting and retaining staff with mental health problems.
Research for the commission by GfK NOP found that out of the 850 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) surveyed across Wales, England and Scotland, two thirds had no procedures in place for managing staff with mental health problems.
The survey also revealed that managers are less willing to offer workplace adjustments to new staff with a mental health problem than they would be for existing staff. (Workplace adjustments could include flexi-time for someone who cannot travel in rush hour, or time off to see a counsellor or psychiatrist.)
The poll found that SMEs want more help to manage staff who develop a mental health problem. 81% said they would welcome a free advice helpline, while more than two thirds (68%) said free one-to-one counselling would help their employees.
The DRC has now issued a plan which calls on the government to provide:
• a free helpline for employers to provide practical advice on supporting staff with a mental health problem
• government-sponsored evidence-based ‘talking therapy’ for workers with a mental health problem
• more and better training for JobcentrePlus staff
• campaigns for employers to share good practice and better access for people with mental health problems to training in the skills employers need
For more information, go to: www.drcgb.org/newsroom