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PM: Improve mental health treatment to get thousands more back to work

David Cameron announces that tens of thousands of people with mental health conditions will be supported to find or return to work. 

  • tens of thousands of people with mental health conditions to be helped to find or stay in work
  • Prime Minister meets with CEOs of top UK companies to agree new workplace standards on mental health
  • extra £1 billion a year for the NHS to help put mental and physical health on equal footing

The Prime Minister has yesterday announced that tens of thousands of people with mental health conditions will be supported to find or return to work as part of a massive new drive to transform treatment in England.

Almost 3 in every 5 people with mental health conditions are currently unable to work, despite evidence showing employment can be a crucial part of treatment.

To end this disparity, the Prime Minister has yesterday announced that action will be taken across government, the NHS and private companies to treat potentially debilitating mental health conditions early on through improved access to care and to help those already struggling with mental health issues to find or return to work.

As part of this approach he yesterday met with business leaders including the CEOs of Royal Mail, Barclays and BT to highlight the need for a shift in attitude to people with mental health conditions in the workplace and to agree new workplace standards.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Mental health is a major problem in our country and it must be properly addressed.

By providing this extra £1 billion a year for mental health care we will make sure it gets the attention in the NHS it needs.

But I want to go even further and end the status quo that sees more than half of people with mental health conditions unable to find a job – ensuring tens of thousands are able to find or return to work over the next 5 years.

The extra £1 billion a year will be used to support 1 million more people with mental health problems to access high quality care that they are not getting today and is an important step towards delivering the government’s commitment to put mental and physical health on an equal footing.

The new approach is based on recommendations from the Mental Health Taskforce – an independent, expert panel chaired by Mind CEO Paul Farmer – which set out a comprehensive plan to tackle the problem which affects millions of people in England and accounts for a quarter of all ill health – higher than heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.

Crucially the Taskforce recognised clear links between work and good mental health and the need for more people to be able to access treatment early on so they can avoid long-term unemployment. The report called for employment for people with mental health conditions to be recognised as a health outcome. Their comments came as latest figures showed only 43% of people with mental health conditions are in employment compared to almost four fifths of the general population and two thirds of people with other health conditions.

To fully embed the link between employment and mental health, the government will work with the NHS to ensure:

  • access to talking therapies for people suffering from conditions like anxiety or depression will be almost doubled so that 800,000 people get the support they need thanks to a £308 million investment
  • 29,000 more people with mental health conditions will be helped to find or stay in work thanks to the increase in these therapies and there will be more mental health experts in job centres to embed the link between employment and mental health
  • £50 million will be spent to double the reach of programmes finding work for people with mental illness – known as Individual Placement and Support Programmes – with evidence showing these programmes save £6,000 per person due to reduced inpatient costs
  • over £50 million is invested to more than double the number of employment advisors, so that they are linked in to every talking therapy service in the country

Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer, who led the Taskforce, said:

This is a landmark moment for mental health care in this country, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform services and support for people with mental health problems. We are saying to the NHS, to government, to industry, to local leaders and to the public that mental health must be a priority for everyone in England.

We need to prevent problems in the first place, and to respond to people’s mental health problems at the earliest possible opportunity. As part of this, the NHS can and should be a world leader in care which treats people’s minds and bodies equally well.

This report is a feasible and affordable blueprint for how to significantly improve care for people with mental health problems. We have consulted with the experts – people with experience of mental health problems, professionals providing care and the public. It’s time to make positive change.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith said:

One in 4 people have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year and we want to offer them as much support as possible and help them get back to work. This is particularly vital because we know that employment can help promote recovery and keep people healthy.

By investing over £50 million and introducing more than double the number of employment advisors to work alongside therapists, we will make a real difference.

This is an important step towards integrating employment and health support to help people find and stay in work. We will set out more on our approach in the Work and Health White Paper.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

We have made monumental strides in the way we think about and treat mental illness in this country in the last few decades — from a society that locks people away in asylums to one giving mental health equal priority in law.

But we must accelerate progress even further. Our shared vision of a 7-day mental health service means people will get the care they need, when they need it, and will help us do much more to prevent mental illness in the first place. We will work across government and with the NHS to make the recommendations in this landmark report a reality, so that we truly deliver equality between mental and physical health.

Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, said yesterday:

One in 4 of us will suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental health problem, but mental health services have historically been the NHS’ poor relation.

Putting mental and physical health on an equal footing will require major improvements in 7-day mental health crisis care, a large increase in psychological treatments, and a more integrated approach to how services are delivered. That’s what today’s taskforce report calls for, and it’s what the NHS is now committed to pursuing.

Moya Greene, chief executive, Royal Mail said:

Creating a culture where all employees feel able to talk about their wellbeing, and where managers feel empowered to play a role in helping to support those around them, is vital for a competitive and sustainable business.

One of the biggest responsibilities lies with business leaders, who have a duty to promote the importance of wellbeing right from the very top and create a positive and accepting environment that encourages people to discuss mental health issues and seek support.

At Royal Mail, we understand the importance of giving our people as much support as possible – not only to look after those around them but to ensure they can also maintain positive wellbeing themselves.

Securing access for a million more people

Alongside helping people with mental health conditions to find or return to work the government is backing the Taskforce’s recommendations to improve treatment and support for people at all stages of their life:

  • 5,000 new psychological therapists will be trained contributing to 70,000 more children and young people receiving access to high-quality mental health care
  • by 2020 intensive home treatment will be available in every part of the country as an alternative to hospital; currently, only half of local areas have teams that can offer 24/7 crisis service in the community
  • by 2020 no acute hospital will be without mental health liaison services in emergency departments and inpatients wards. Currently only a minority of A&E departments have 24/7 liaison mental health services that reach minimum quality standards
  • at least 280,000 people living with severe mental health problems will be offered health checks so they have their physical needs met

Improving life chances

Last month the Prime Minister set out the first phase of support for mental health treatment recommended by the Taskforce.

He announced that over the next 5 years:

  • £290 million will be spent to provide specialist care to mums before and after having their babies
  • the first ever waiting time targets will be introduced for teenagers with eating disorders and people experiencing psychosis
  • nearly £250 million will be allocated to mental health services in hospital emergency departments
  • over £400 million will go towards enabling 24/7 treatment in communities as safe and effective alternatives to hospitals

Notes to editors

The £1 billion annual investment will allow an extra 1 million people with mental health problems to access high quality care that they aren’t getting today. This is broken down as:

  • 30,000 more people receiving specialist perinatal mental health care
  • 70,000 more children and young people receiving specialist help
  • 600,000 more people receiving access to talking therapies
  • 30,000 more people receiving employment support through Individual Placement and Support (IPS); and 280,000 more people receiving follow on care

Talking therapies (previously known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies or IAPT) offers patients a realistic and routine first-line treatment for depression and anxiety disorders, combined where appropriate with medication – which were traditionally the only treatment available.

Individual Placement and Support Programmes support people with mental health conditions to become job ready and further helps them once they have found employment. IPS can release savings of around £6,000 per person through reduced inpatients costs during an 18 month period. A recent study found:

  • IPS clients were twice as likely to gain employment than those without support
  • they kept their jobs for longer
  • they were less likely to be hospitalised

Currently more than 3 million people access mental health care services each year.

 

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