UK Government

Department of Health: Radical overhaul of support for people with mental health conditions

Press Release   •   Dec 07, 2009 11:45 GMT

New specialist coordinators and dedicated advice lines for small businesses are part of a radical overhaul of support for people with mental health conditions.

Increasing job opportunities for people with mental health conditions and improving the wellbeing of workers is part of a wide-ranging new Government vision to enhance mental health services and boost the wellbeing of the whole population.

From today people with mental health conditions can rely on new support to help them manage their conditions so they can stay in work or get back to work as quickly as possible if they lose their job or have never worked.

The new support includes:

• The launch of a new network of mental health coordinators in every Jobcentre Plus district to better coordinate health and employment support at a local level and improve the employment chances of Jobcentre Plus customers;

• The launch of nine occupational health advice line pilots to give small businesses in Britain the support they need to keep people in work when health issues arise. This advice line will give employers direct access to occupational health professionals and direct employers to the advice and services they require;

• Ministers are also looking at ways to extend the highly successful Access to Work programme to specifically help more people with mental health conditions to get and stay in work.

Ministers from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department of Health (DH) and the Cabinet Office outlined the Government’s vision.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper said:

“The vast majority of people with mental health conditions work, but for some people it can be very hard to stay in a job. If people fall out of work and onto benefits it is even harder for them to get back into work as it can be a real knock to their confidence.

“We know that work is good for people and that’s why we want to give everyone the support they need to stay in a job, or get back to work. Today we are giving people with mental health conditions this support. We are also helping employers understand what they can do to help people stay in their jobs and manage their condition so that they don’t have to leave work and fall onto benefits at all.”

Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham said:

“Life-threatening conditions like cancer or heart disease prompt sympathy and understanding. But mental health is all too often shrouded in mystery, stigma or simply forgotten.

“Depression is a huge public health challenge – it affects one in six people and causes one of the main disabling conditions in this country. Needless deaths from suicide are the second most common cause of death in men aged 15–44.

“We are determined to tackle this by bringing forward a radical new approach to mental health. New Horizons follows a decade of record investment in mental health services - there are now more consultant psychiatrists, more clinical psychologists and more mental health nurses than ever before.

"This strategy includes a national roll out of our successful talking therapies programme, NICE guidelines, new action on suicide prevention and a plan to tackle the stigma shrouding mental illness.

“Good mental health services are a vital part of a modern, preventative and people-centred National Health Service."

New Horizons: A Shared Vision for Mental Health, launched today, is the Government’s new over-arching vision for mental health in England to improve services and help prevent people developing mental health illness.  It will tackle depression for people of all ages; work to reduce suicides improve outreach to help excluded groups access support; and tackle the stigma around mental illness.

The DWP also commissioned a review led by Dr Rachel Perkins to offer advice on improving support for people who are out of work and have mental health conditions which is also launched today.

Dr Rachel Perkins said:

“People with mental health conditions remain among the most excluded within our society, particularly in the workplace. We know that work improves mental health and wellbeing and most people with a mental health condition would like to be in work and pursue a career.

“The review’s recommendations are wide-ranging and challenging for Government. However, at their heart they set a vision for how employment, health and social services can better work together to provide co-ordinated support for people with mental health conditions.”

The UK Government and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales are also setting out its vision and support to help wellbeing at work for everyone and deliver better employment results for people with mental health conditions today through the following publications:

• Working Our Way to Better Mental Health: A Framework for Action is the first GB wide Mental Health and Employment Strategy. This practical framework for action sets out commitments from Government and expectations of employers, healthcare professionals, organisations and individuals. Successful action will improve wellbeing at work for everyone and deliver better employment results for people with mental health conditions.

• Realising Ambitions: Better Employment Support for People with a Mental Health Condition is a review commissioned by DWP and led by Rachel Perkins of South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, supported by Paul Farmer of Mind and Paul Litchfield of BT. The review offers recommendations for improving employment, health and wider support for people with mental health conditions.

In addition the Government is launching:

• Work, Recovery and Inclusion a cross-government delivery plan for England to support people in contact with secondary mental health services into work. It also forms part of the UK Government response to the Perkins Review. It sets out a long term vision to radically increase the number of people from this group in employment by 2025, and to narrow the gap between their employment rate and that of disabled people generally

Mental ill-health is the most common reason for claiming health-related benefits and costs the economy between £30bn and £40bn through lost production, sick pay, NHS treatment as well as the personal and financial costs that result from being out of work.

The human, social and economic cost of mental illness is immense. One in six people have a mental health problem and it is the second most common cause of death in men ages 14-44.

Notes to editors

1. DWP reports can be found at

2. The DoH report – new Horizons can be found at

3. An occupational health advice line for small businesses is being piloted in seven regions of England (East Anglia; Merseyside; North East; North and West Yorkshire; Portsmouth, South Hampshire, East Sussex & Isle of Wight; South Buckinghamshire, South Oxfordshire, West Berkshire; and West London), and across the whole of Scotland and Wales. The advice lines for all pilots will be open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (9am to 4.30pm on Friday in Scotland). The advice lines will be operating from 7 December. DWP will work with the NHS to deliver the service, which is funded by DWP.

• England
Health for Work Adviceline - 0800 0 77 88 44 (website for England goes live a t 9am on   
Wednesday 9 December 2009).

• Scotland
Healthy Working Lives Adviceline - 0800 019 2211

• Wales
Health at Work Advice Line Wales; Llinell Gymorth Iechyd ar Waith Cymru - 0800 107 0900

4. The mental health coordinator network is launched today, when a coordinator will be in place in every Jobcentre Plus district. They will build practical links between health and employment services at local level, encourage an employment focus in locally commissioned working age health service, particularly mental health services, and provide mental health and wellbeing guidance for advisers. The network is funded by DWP.

5. New Horizons builds on an unprecedented period of growth and investment in mental healt. Over the past ten years, the Government has put in place measures to protect people’s mental health. Measures include:

• More money: Since 2001-02, real terms investment in adult mental health services increased by 44 per cent (or £1.7 billion) putting in place the services and staff needed to transform mental health services. The NHS spent £5.53 billion on these services in 2007-08 (£3.844 billion in 2001-02).

• More patients helped: In the year 2007/08, crisis resolution teams provided over 106,000 episodes of home treatment for patients who would otherwise have been admitted to hospital.

• Improved safety: In 2006/7, the Government made available £130 million capital for improvements in the environment, including safety, on psychiatric intensive care units and adult acute mental health wards. This included £30 million targeted at acute wards for improvements in safety particularly for women service users. Allocation of this money has been phased over 2006/07-08/09.

• More staff: There are now 64 per cent more consultant psychiatrists, 71 per cent more clinical psychologists and 21 per cent more mental health nurses than in 1997, providing better care and support for people with mental health problems.

• More services: Because of the National Service Framework and increased funding, there are now more than 740 new community mental health teams offering home treatment, early intervention, or intensive support for people who might otherwise have been admitted to hospital.

• The suicide rate: The latest available data for the three year period 2005/6/7 show a rate of 7.9 deaths per 100,000 population - a reduction of 10 per cent from the 1995/6/7 baseline, which is now at an all time low.


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