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Mental Illness: Employment

Volume 455: debated on Friday 26 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures he is taking to promote actively the employment within (a) his Department and (b) public-sector bodies for whom he has responsibility of people with mental illnesses in line with the advice and codes of practice produced by the Disability Rights Commission. (117085)

Under the Disability Equality Duty introduced by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, DFID is required to publish and implement a Disability Equality Scheme. This is a plan setting out how we will carry out the Disability Equality Duty, monitor, and report on progress. In particular this includes our arrangements for gathering information on the effect of our policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of our disabled employees, including those with mental health conditions, and making use of that information.

DFID has duties under the employment provisions in part 2 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 not to discriminate against, and to make reasonable adjustments for, disabled job applicants and employees.

For mental health specifically, DFID has taken or will be taking the following actions:

we ran a mental health awareness raising seminar in October 2006 and our Director of Human Resources (HR) will follow this up with an article on ‘living with depression’;

we have developed a Mental Health Communication Strategy, which outlines the various promotional activities we have planned, including a poster campaign highlighting the role of our welfare and counselling services;

we are currently undertaking a full analysis of barriers in our recruitment programme and this will take account of the needs of people with a mental illness;

HR Division is taking steps to ensure the process for making reasonable adjustments is more robust and consistent, as well as more effective at meeting the needs of disabled staff; and

we carried out a stress Audit in 2004, and as a result, DFID’s welfare and counselling service now offer seminars for staff and managers on ‘Managing Work/Life Balance under pressure’, as well as promoting the use of ‘Askwell’, an interactive health website that gives advice on many issues, including stress.

DFID is responsible for 21 appointments to three non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs):

Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK

Crown Agents Holding and Realisation Board

Overseas Service Pensions Scheme Advisory Board

Only the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission is currently active. DFID is committed to the Government’s agenda for improving diversity on the boards of public bodies. To this end, and to encourage applications for all appointments from women, people from minority ethnic backgrounds and disabled people, we advertise in a range of publications and ensure that each advertisment makes it clear that applications are welcome from all parts of the community.