New bid to improve social inclusion for mental health services clients

Social exclusion minister Barbara Roche has launched a new
consultation on employment and inclusion for people with mental
health problems.

Delegates to Community Care Live, held by Community
at the Business Design Centre in north London, were told
that mental health is one of the “major new projects for the social
exclusion unit”.

The SEU consultation, which closes on 5 September, will seek the
views of service users, councils and businesses for ideas about
tackling barriers to employment.

The findings would, Roche said, “build on the new deal for disabled
people and the National Service Framework for Mental Health”.

It will also address how clients can obtain better access to other
services such as leisure and education and play a greater part in

“We know that one in six adults suffers from a mental health
problem at some point, and that they can find it very hard to find
and retain jobs,” Roche told delegates. “We also know that many
people end up being excluded from other services in the community
and that the stigma attached to diagnosis can be more disabling
than the illness itself.

“There is a great deal of valuable knowledge on best practice on
the ground that we need to access, and we want to get the widest
possible response,” added Roche.

Cliff Prior, chief executive of mental health charity Rethink, said
that previous reports from the social exclusion unit had helped
“shake up” government departments and forced them to broaden their
work beyond narrow departmental concerns.

“We expect the social exclusion unit to also condemn the high rates
of unemployment, poverty and isolation experienced by people with
severe mental illness and insist that governmental departments work
together to combat it,” he added.

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