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Mentally Ill

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent progress has been made by the National Social Inclusion working group on the co-ordination and establishment of regional employment partnerships for people with mental health problems; and if he will make a statement. (240716)

The National Social Inclusion Programme's regional employment teams (RETs) on Mental Health initiative is a two year project to implement action 23 of the Social Exclusion Task Force report “Reaching Out, An Action Plan on Social Exclusion” (Cabinet Office, 2006). Action point 23 relates to improving employment outcomes for people with severe mental health conditions. It also aims to encourage local activity to achieve the mental health employment target of public service agreement 16 (PSA 16), to improve employment and housing outcomes for socially excluded groups.

During their first year of operation the range of activity undertaken by RETs included regional summits of key partners, the creation of strategy groups with partnership meetings and stakeholder events and the development of a regional action plan and statement of priorities.

The RETs have also looked at how best to influence existing policies and strategies, such as the development of the city strategy initiative and roll out of Pathways to Work and Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies programmes.

As well as local activity the RETs provide ongoing input into development of national policy. This includes working with the Cabinet Office on data collection and measuring progress against mental health employment target under PSA16, and input into the cross-Government group on mental health and employment.

The other critical policy development for the RETs activity is the cross Government response to Dame Carol Black’s report “Working for a healthier tomorrow” in which mental health is both a cross cutting theme as well as forming a separate work stream.