The Prime Minister announced on Monday that tens of thousands of people with mental health conditions will be supported to find or return to work as part of a massive new drive to transform treatment in England.
Almost three in every five people with mental health conditions are currently unable to work, despite evidence showing employment can be a crucial part of treatment.
To end this disparity, the Prime Minister announced that action will be taken across government, the NHS and private companies to treat potentially debilitating mental health conditions early on through improved access to care and to help those already struggling with mental health issues to find or return to work.
As part of this approach, he met with business leaders including the CEOs of Royal Mail, Barclays and BT to highlight the need for a shift in attitude to people with mental health conditions in the workplace and to agree new workplace standards.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Mental health is a major problem in our country and it must be properly addressed.
“By providing this extra £1 billion a year for mental health care we will make sure it gets the attention in the NHS it needs.
“But I want to go even further and end the status quo that sees more than half of people with mental health conditions unable to find a job – ensuring tens of thousands are able to find or return to work over the next five years.
“The extra £1 billion a year will be used to support one million more people with mental health problems to access high quality care that they are not getting today and is an important step towards delivering the government’s commitment to put mental and physical health on an equal footing.”
The new approach is based on recommendations from the Mental Health Taskforce – an independent, expert panel chaired by Mind CEO Paul Farmer – which today set out a comprehensive plan to tackle the problem which affects millions of people in England and accounts for a quarter of all ill health – higher than heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.
Crucially the Taskforce recognised clear links between work and good mental health and the need for more people to be able to access treatment early on so they can avoid long-term unemployment.
The report called for employment for people with mental health conditions to be recognised as a health outcome. Their comments came as latest figures showed only 43% of people with mental health conditions are in employment compared to almost four fifths of the general population and two thirds of people with other health conditions.
Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer, who led the Taskforce, said: “This is a landmark moment for mental health care in this country, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform services and support for people with mental health problems.
“We are saying to the NHS, to government, to industry, to local leaders and to the public that mental health must be a priority for everyone in England.
We need to prevent problems in the first place, and to respond to people’s mental health problems at the earliest possible opportunity. As part of this, the NHS can and should be a world leader in care which treats people’s minds and bodies equally well.”