Guidance launched to help people back into work

Health minister Rosie Winterton today launched a new drive to help people with mental health problems get back to work.

Winterton has published four new sets of guidance for commissioners of services designed to better re-integrate people that have experienced mental health problems into society.  The guidance covers vocational, day and women’s only day services and direct payments.

Launching the guidance today, Winterton said that providing opportunities to people with mental health problems was a “key objective” of the government.

She said: “These sets of guidance will help patients through different stages of the patient journey. Direct payments can give people with mental health problems control over their own lives by providing an alternative to social care services provided by a local council. They give the person flexibility to find ‘off the peg’ solutions, leading to increased opportunities for independence and social inclusion.”

The guidance has been drawn up following the report of the Social Exclusion Unit Social Exclusion and Mental Health, published in June 2004. The report sought to reduce the barriers to employment and community participation experienced by people with mental health problems.

It identified further development of vocational services, day service modernisation and improved provision of direct payments for as key to reducing such barriers.

Whilst the guidance has been seen as a positive step by the government, some feel that they will be ineffective without additional public funding. 

Simon Lawton-Smith, King’s Fund senior policy officer for mental health, said: “The guidance for mental health commissioners is very welcome. However, at a time of severe financial pressures, it would have been more welcome if it had come with some extra resources for implementing these services.  The resources put into mental health anti-stigma work are miniscule compared to the billions of pounds that mental illness costs the country each year.”

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