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Mental Health and Employment

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

Today, the Secretary of State for Health and I are announcing a number of publications on the subject of mental ill health and employment.

Mental ill health presents a major challenge to our society. As well as the devastating impact it can have on individuals and their families, mental ill health costs the economy between £30 billion and £40 billion through lost production, sick pay, NHS treatment and unemployment. It is now also the most common reason for claiming health-related benefits.

The Government are determined to support individuals and families and tackle these costs. Improving mental health at work and boosting the employment chances of people with mental health conditions are central to our approach. Taking part in well-managed work can help to develop people’s mental health, resilience and well-being. We must ensure that more workplaces support their employees to do this and provide joined-up services to help people with mental health conditions to find and stay in employment.

Our first publication, “Working Our Way to Better Mental Health: a Framework for Action” is the first mental health and employment strategy for the whole of Great Britain. It sets out a practical approach to achieving the twin aims of increasing well-being at work for everyone and improving employment outcomes for people with mental health conditions. It has been developed with the assistance of a group of independent experts, including mental health specialists, senior academics and representatives from business and third sector organisations, chaired by Dame Carol Black, the National Director for Health and Work. The document was developed in partnership with the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales.

We are also publishing today an independent review commissioned by DWP and led by Dr. Rachel Perkins of South-West London and St. George’s Mental Health Trust. Her review, “Realising Ambitions: Better employment support for people with a mental health condition”, describes how we can strengthen employment, health and wider state support to help people with mental conditions who are out of work.

Our third publication, “Work Recovery and Inclusion” is a cross-Government delivery plan for England setting out a high-level vision and series of commitments to support those people in contact with secondary mental health services into work. It forms part of the UK Government response to the Perkins review.

Acting on employment and mental health must be a long-term commitment. These publications support the objectives of “New Horizons: a shared vision for mental health” in England that is also published today. Taken together, our ambitions will influence future policy development across Governments and throughout the wider public sector, and bring about changes in behaviour in organisations and individuals. In so doing, they signal a long-term commitment to joint working between Government and their partners.

Copies of all the documents will be available later today in the Vote Office.