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Jobcentres to help people with mental illness to find work

Friday, December 11th, 2009 Jobcentres to help people with mental illness to find work

The Government have launched a new vision for mental health services that aims to help people with mental health conditions, such as depression, to find and stay in work.

The New Horizons strategy will include advice lines for small businesses that will put employers in direct contact with occupational health professionals.

The strategy follows a review led by Rachel Perkins, a specialist on mental health issues, on the improvements that can be made to the estimated one million people who are off work or unemployed due to a mental health illness.

The NHS currently allocates 13 per cent of its budget to mental health, funding community, hospital and drug and alcohol addiction services.

It is estimated that around 15 per cent of the population will suffer from depression or anxiety at some point in their life. The new strategy is intended to help support those suffering from less common mental illnesses including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The new mental health co-ordinators will be placed in every Jobcentre Plus district in the UK and it is hoped that they will help to improve job opportunities for people who may feel stigmatised or apprehensive of returning to work

In addition to this, a pilot scheme will be introduced over the next two-years costing a total of £4million to cover the cost of temporary staff when workers with mental health problems need to take time off.

Dr Perkins, from the West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, said: “People with mental health conditions remain among the most excluded within our society, particularly in the workplace. We know that work improves mental health and wellbeing and most people with a mental health condition would like to be in work and pursue a career.”

Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, added: “Life-threatening conditions like cancer or heart disease prompt sympathy and understanding. But mental health is all too often shrouded in mystery, stigma or simply forgotten. Depression is a huge public health challenge — it affects one in six people and causes one of the main disabling conditions in this country. Needless deaths from suicide are the second-most-common cause of death in men aged 15 to 44. We are determined to tackle this by bringing forward a radical new approach to mental health.”

The new proposals have been welcomed by health campaigners and charities, but are still calling for more long-term funding.

Chief executive of Rethink, the mental health charity, Paul Jenkins, said: “With the right backing, the New Horizons strategy could revolutionise the quality of life and care available to people affected by severe mental illness.”

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