Review ‘will help more mental health service-users into work’


The government has launched a new review aimed at improving the “shameful” numbers of mental health service-users in employment.
James Purnell, the work and pensions secretary, said the government needed to be “more proactive” so disabled people have “a fair opportunity and equal capabilities to work”.
He pointed to the employment rate of people with mental health conditions – 10 per cent – and compared it with the 73 per cent rate of the rest of the population.
In a speech at the RSA in London, Purnell said up to 90 per cent of people with mental health conditions say they would like to do some paid work.
He said he had commissioned a review of how to support mental health service-users into work by changing the way employment and health services and the benefits system work together.
The independent review will be led by Dr Rachel Perkins, from South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, which Purnell said has found work for about three-fifths of people with severe mental health conditions.
The review will focus on the individual placement and support approach pioneered by Perkins, which includes work assessments; advice on personal development, training, job applications and interview techniques; and ongoing support during employment.
Perkins, a mental health service-user herself, will report to Purnell before the pre Budget report later this year.
The mental health charity Rethink welcomed the review, but called for all employers to be given training and support to help them employ people with mental health problems.
The charity also called for health-related questions to be banned until after a job offer has been made, unless the questions are directly related to the position.
The welfare reform bill, currently in Parliament, will see nearly everyone on benefits forced to take steps to prepare for work, with personal support provided by public, private and voluntary sector agencies that will be paid by results.