By Steven McGinty
Last week, the UK government announced a new pilot scheme to support those with mental illness back into work. While similar to other government initiatives, this scheme has the unique selling point of offering treatment at an earlier stage, alongside employment support.
Like many of the government’s return to work policies, this might prove to be controversial. Many have expressed concerns over a comment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that suggests that counselling could become mandatory for those claiming benefits. One of the most notable individuals to question this policy is Tom Pollard, Campaign and Policy Manager at Mind. He suggests that,
“If people are not getting access to the support they need, the government should address levels of funding for mental health services rather than putting even more pressure on those supported by benefits and not currently well enough to work.”
Although this pilot scheme has caused some heated debate, this is just one of the many ideas available to the government. Others include:
Aim High Routeback (Easington Pilot), County Durham
This pilot scheme was launched in 2005, as part of the Northern Way pilots, and was said to take a ‘health-first’ approach. The scheme was based in an NHS Primary Care Trust building, with participants focusing on the practical management of their health conditions, and employment only being discussed once individuals had started to make progress with their health. The project reported an above average return to work rate, in comparison with the other pilots. Interestingly, one of the key findings of the study was that participants were more likely to return to work if they felt like their health was ‘good or improving’.
JOBS II Model
This model was developed in the US and involves the use of peer led groups. The idea is that these groups can be used to support those with mental health problems back into employment, as well as prevent the negative health impacts which can arise from unemployment. The programme works on improving the jobseekers’ ability to search for work, as well as to cope with the setbacks of finding employment. The model has been found to be successful and has recently been recommended by the Department for Work and Pensions.
This is a measure for assessing patients that was piloted by a community mental health team in Oxfordshire. The pilot involved asking new patients to fill in a 10 minute survey. This survey allowed medical staff to better assess the support needs of patients, as well as to identify their strengths and weaknesses. The staff were then able to offer more targeted referrals and interventions. For example, the use of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or the tailoring of a patient’s medication. The pilot reported that this approach led to an improvement in outcomes for patients.
This is just a small sample of the research on improving the employment prospects of those with mental illness.
At Idox, our database contains all the research highlighted. We also provide an enquiry service, allowing members to receive the support of information professionals, as well as save time on their research.
Further reading (you may need to be a member to view some of these articles):
- BBC News, ‘Mental health job support scheme piloted’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28281839
- The role of health interventions in reducing incapacity claimant numbers
- Fit for purpose: transforming employment support for disabled people and those with health conditions
- Psychological wellbeing and work: improving service provision and outcomes
- Working solution for mental health, IN Health Service Journal, Vol 124 No 6396 2 May 2014, pp24-25