UK Government promises more employment support for people with mental illness

New specialist coordinators and dedicated advice lines for small businesses are part of an overhaul of employment support for people with a mental illness announced by the UK Government this week.

Increasing job opportunities for people with mental illness and improving the wellbeing of workers is part of a new Government vision to “enhance mental health services and boost the wellbeing of the whole population”.

The new support includes:

  • The launch of a new network of mental health coordinators in every Jobcentre Plus district to better coordinate health and employment support at a local level.
  • The launch of occupational health advice line pilots to give small businesses in Britain the support to keep people in work when health issues arise.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper said: “The vast majority of people with mental health conditions work, but for some people it can be very hard to stay in a job. If people fall out of work and onto benefits it is even harder for them to get back into work as it can be a real knock to their confidence.

“We know that work is good for people and that’s why we want to give everyone the support they need to stay in a job, or get back to work. Today we are giving people with mental health conditions this support. We are also helping employers understand what they can do to help people stay in their jobs and manage their condition so that they don’t have to leave work and fall onto benefits at all.”

Andrew Mulholland, Employment Coordinator at Welsh mental health charity Hafal, said: “We welcome the UK Government’s recognition that employment has a significant impact on people’s mental health. Hafal has long understood the importance of keeping a job or returning to work as part of recovery from serious mental illness. We currently run a national Big Lottery funded project supporting clients to achieve their employment ambitions, and hope that the UK Government will target people with serious mental illness with further resources.”

The UK Government’s plans are outlined in the following:

  • Work, Recovery and Inclusion: a cross-government delivery plan specifically for England to support people in contact with secondary mental health services into work.

The UK Government also launched its “New Horizons” vision for the mental health of the population this week. Although the vision applies to England the governments in Wales and Scotland will “have devolved responsibility to address the issues that meet their own circumstances and needs”.