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Mental Health

Volume 715: debated on Monday 7 December 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

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 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 organizations, 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 that 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’s 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 the Government and their partners.

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

My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today I am publishing New Horizons: a shared vision for mental health. Mental health care in England has been transformed since the launch in 1999 of the national service framework for mental health. Significant and sustained increases in investment, an expansion of the workforce and a shift from hospital care to treatment in the community mean that our services are now recognised and admired internationally. It is time to build on those achievements.

New Horizons represents an innovative dual approach: continued improvement to mental health services in England, coupled with ambitious cross-government action for promoting public mental health and well-being. It is the product of close collaboration between government departments and a coalition of leading stakeholders from local government, the professions and the third sector. It has also been the subject of extensive public consultation.

The guiding values of New Horizons, endorsed by the consultation response, are: equality and justice; helping people to fulfil their potential and control their lives; and valuing relationships. It has six key themes:

preventing mental ill health and promoting good mental health;

intervening early;

tackling stigma;

strengthening transitions between mental health services;

personalising care; and

achieving value for money.

Its publication marks the beginning of a process, not the end. New Horizons provides a platform for action across government in the coming months and years. We are already putting this approach into action with the publication today of a suite of documents relating to the issue of mental health and employment. They are Working our way to better mental health: a framework for action, alongside Work, Recovery and Inclusion and Realising ambitions: better employment support for people with a mental health condition. These are described more fully in the Written Ministerial Statement made today by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper).

New Horizons: a shared vision for mental health has been placed in the Library and copies are available for honourable Members from the Vote Office.