Mental health: James Purnell announces employment review

Work and pensions secretary James Purnell today announced a review into how more people with mental health problems can be supported into work.

In a speech to the RSA, he said it was “shameful” that the employment rate for people with mental health problems was as low as 10%, compared to 73% for the general population, despite the vast majority of mentally-ill people wanting to work.

However, he said there were solutions, such as the use of the “individual placement and support” model by South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, which has successfully got many people with severe conditions into employment.

Rachel Perkins to head review

The review will be headed by Dr Rachel Perkins, director of quality assurance and user/carer experience at the trust, who has led on this work.

Purnell added: “She will report by the pre-budget report [due in November], so we can move quickly to ensure the system and the money we spend on it capitalises on the much better treatment that is now available.”

Individual placement and support involves integrating employment with care services and placing people in jobs and providing them with ongoing support in the workplace, rather than training them to get jobs.

Sainsbury Centre has championed model

The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, which has championed the model, welcomed today’s announcement and praised the appointment of Perkins, saying her trust “leads the way in offering people with severe and enduring mental health problems the chance to achieve their ambitions”.

The charity’s employment programme director, Bob Grove, said: “There is no doubt that benefits, employment and social care services need to work together more effectively. Too many people’s prospects are limited by services that fail to offer the right support at the right time to help them to make their own lives better.”

Sainsbury Centre chief executive Angela Greatley will be speaking at a Community Care conference – New Approaches to Mental Health Care: Best practice in supporting recovery on June 18.

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