Just 3.4% of adults who have contact with secondary mental health services in England are in paid employment while just over a fifth are in settled accommodation, government figures published this week have revealed.
The figure for paid work is even lower than the 7.5% of people with learning disabilities in employment and known to social services, while 65.2% of those with learning disabilities are in settled accommodation.
The figures were published this week by the NHS Information Centre as part of a set of provisional adult social care and mental health performance indicator results for 2008-9.
The revelation comes with the government due to publish a strategy later this month on getting more people with mental health problems into work.
Low employment rate is “shameful”
In May, former work and pensions secretary James Purnell said in a speech to the RSA that it was “shameful” that the employment rate for people with mental health problems was as low as 10%, compared with 73% for the general population.
He said this was despite the vast majority of mentally-ill people wanting to work.
Simon Lawton-Smith, head of policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said employment rates for people on the care programme approach – the care management system for people receiving secondary care – were “disappointingly low”.
Not getting support
He said: “We know that most people with a mental health diagnosis want to work, but do not get the tailored support they need.”
Lawton-Smith added: “People want and need support from across a range of services, not just good quality clinical care. The best support comes when local services are genuinely joined-up across health, social care, housing, employment and benefits.
“These figures show there remains a lot of work to be done so that people are treated as a whole person, with the accommodation details of most people on the CPA [care programme approach] list simply not known by local authorities for example.”
Placement and support
The government has voiced support for the “individual placement and support” model of employment support for people with mental health problems. This involves people being placed in jobs with employers and employees then given support for as long as is necessary.
Last week’s performance figures also found that direct payment take-up was lower for people with mental health problems than other social care client groups.
They showed that while 6.5% of all users, 13.1% of adults aged 18-64 with learning disabilities and 13.8% of physically disabled adults were accessing direct payments, just 3.6% of older people and 3.2% of 18- to 64-year-olds with mental health problems had access.
Lawton-Smith added: “With the correct support, direct payments can be a powerful way for people to take control of their own lives. Yet until now they seem to be used far less for people with mental health problems than for other groups.”