Welfare advice can aid mental health recovery says study

Welfare help can prevent relapses and support recovery among people with severe mental health problems says Centre for Mental Health

Mental health services should offer welfare advice to those with severe mental illness to help with recovery and to prevent relapses, a Centre for Mental Health report says.

The charity’s report, Welfare advice for people who use mental health services, examines how welfare advice can help people with poor mental health, who it notes face above average levels of unemployment, homelessness and debt.

The hospital-based Sheffield Mental Health Citizens Advice Bureau, one of just two such services in England, was among the services examined.

The report says that during 2012/13 the bureau worked with 622 clients and managed to raise the annual income of 113 of those clients by an average of £4,274.

Such support, the report argues, can help prevent relapses and support the recovery of individuals as it reduces financial and housing instability they face.

These services can also lead to quicker discharges from hospital, the report adds.

It adds that welfare advice also has the potential to reduce spending, highlighting how the Sheffield bureau spent an average of £260 per client compared to the £330 per day cost for an inpatient stay.

“Every mental health service should offer this sort of advice,” said Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health.

“It would not only help prevent and reduce relapse but would work with people to help reduce triggers and develop coping mechanisms for the future and support recovery.”

The report says mental health services should look at incorporating welfare advice into their care pathways and called on the government to include welfare advice in outcomes frameworks for social care, NHS and public health services.

It also called on the Care Quality Commission to examine the quality and availability of welfare advice services when inspecting mental health services.

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