Mental health and employment — a vicious circle?
Mental health awareness is prevalent in the news and in social media with campaigns being backed by celebrities such as JK Rowling, Stephen Fry and even Princes William and Harry. This Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20) BACAB highlight the fact that in day to day ‘real life’, people with mental health difficulties need the advice to overcome barriers in the workplace.
Around 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem this year*, and many of them will currently be working full time.
Last year, research carried out by Citizens Advice found 1 in 3 people with a long-term mental health condition experienced difficulties with their employment — which ranged from making it into work on time or at all and difficult relationships with colleagues or finding they needed to reduce their hours.
The CAB alone saw 6,540 employment clients with mental health problems last year — with a total of 12,130 serious employment issues and benefit concerns.
The problems they face can be complex and we have found a vicious circle relating to employment and mental health issues. Some of the difficulties faced are:
- Difficulty staying in employment.
- People are more likely to experience problems at work.
- It’s harder to seek redress with employers.
- Disputing employment problems can make conditions worse.
- People with mental health problems struggle to find new jobs.
The negative feedback loop in mental health and employment
The consequence of this vicious circle is the disability employment gap. Just 36% of working age people with a work-limiting mental health condition have a job compared to 49% of disabled people overall, and 80% of non-disabled people without health conditions. This makes people with mental health conditions one of the most disadvantaged groups in the labour market.
So – what’s the solution? Integrated advice
The government has recognised that people with mental health problems need practical, day-to-day support. This lies behind their funding for Access to Work and investment of £39 million to double employment advice in mental health services. There’s no doubt that this is a step in the right direction.
If you are currently struggling with employment difficulties relating to mental health issues, please contact us at BACAB where we have advisors on hand to help you.
This programme may also be of interest to you http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05vyxqd
*source NHS Digital Survey Adult Psychiatric Morbidity in England, Results of a household survey.