A recent article in The Guardian claimed that unemployment, even in good or bad economic times is linked to higher levels of suicide than an economic recession according to a study published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal.
Combine the above with the fact that according to a former health minister the number of people being admitted to hospital as an emergency with a mental health condition is set to reach it’s highest level; is enough being done to help support people with mental health problems either get or stay in their jobs?
For the majority of people work plays a massive role in their lives, particularly providing the adequate funds to enjoy life. For some lucky people (we like to think we have these at #TeamJigsaw) it can be fun and also provide a sense of belonging and achievement.
This isn’t always the case for everyone though unfortunately. If the components above are not in place, people’s mental health can suffer massively; this proves the critical role employment can play in mental health.
Mental health issues in the workplace affect the individual and the companies involved. Conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression cost employers approximately £26 billion a year, including the NHS as figures obtained by the BBC reported that over 40,000 staff were off with mental health issues in 2014 when compared with just 20,000 in 2010. Therefore it’s definitely in everybody’s interest to ensure that employers and the health care industry are doing everything they can to improve employees mental health.
What can be done?
Firstly, better understanding and support from employers would be a great start. Mental health issues should not be stigmatised, particularly those that are unable to work due to it.
Furthermore, there is a need for specific mental health training for doctors and nurses and to view mental health as equal to physical health. However, this can only be achieved through equal funding between mental health services and other NHS services.
A press release from the Department for Work and Pensions that was released last year claimed that a further £12 million was to be invested in helping people with mental health conditions return to work.
Additionally, last October the government started piloting a scheme to get more people with mental health problems into work or back into work. The voluntary scheme will see some people on Employment and Support Allowance being offered employment support and psychiatric help.
However, despite the above a report was released by BBC News and the online journal Community Care yesterday revealing that mental health trusts have had their budgets cut by 8% (approximately £600m) over the course of the Conservative parliament.
Everyone with mental health issues should have access to the excellent care and services, and treated correctly, but if government funding continues to be cut this can’t and won’t happen, and the issue will continue to worsen.