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Employment driving road to recovery for UK’s mental health crisis

Sonia Roberts, CEO - Landau

Mental ill health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK, contributing up to 23.8 per cent of the total burden. Here, Sonia Roberts, Chief Executive of supported employment and training charity Landau, highlights why having a purpose through employment and financial independence could be key to resolving the UK’s deepening mental health crisis. 

The majority of people will spend almost a third of their lifetime working. It’s easy then to see why our jobs play such an important role in defining our lives. 

Whether you work a regular nine to five or more ad hoc hours, our jobs give us a sense of purpose and financial independence — and proves why employment support should be at the core of an individual’s recovery plan if they are suffering mental ill health. 

Research shows that one in four adults nationally are recognised as having at least one diagnosable mental health problem and the impact of this on the British economy is estimated at £105 billion a year. 

This is both unsustainable for society and unacceptable for individuals, but all too often people living with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination rather than the targeted help they need to make them feel valued. 

What they need is a joined-up approach, but better still, one that places a purpose — a job or training — at the centre of their recovery. 

They need someone to take the time to listen to what is holding them back, someone to understand the barriers they face whether emotional, physical or otherwise, and then someone to recognise the skills they already possess and others that they might benefit from learning. 

What they really need is someone to believe in them alongside an intensive, individually tailored support package. 

And the best way for this to be delivered is through effective Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services. 

When implemented well, this type of service can transform the lives of those with mental health difficulties, even those so severely impacted they believe they have no future and no real prospects. 

Intervention requires intensive, individual support provided by employment specialists who work in partnership with clinical teams and employers to get people into sustainable employment. 

The underlying fundamental principle to success is that job matches should be consistent with an individual’s preferences. Returning to a role that’s too stressful or difficult won’t work. Neither will a job that doesn’t match their skillset. 

The process relies on building trustworthy relationships between employment specialists, individuals and employers and requires unlimited support on all sides. 

As one of the UK’s most successful IPS services, we know this approach to recovery from mental ill health works. A job gives people a purpose, a goal, a sense of worth and financial independence to get them moving their lives forward in a positive way.  

It’s what they often need to make a long-term impact on their life and their overall mental well-being, and we’ve supported thousands of individuals onto this pathway to recovery. 

They are real life stories and reflect the raw individual struggles of those who have been referred to us for help. With their approval, we’re sharing them to provide hope to others facing mental health issues — the one in four adults mentioned above. That might be your husband, wife, friend or relative. 

Together, we’re certain that with better understanding and greater diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, we can begin to tackle the nation’s deepening mental health crisis. 

Let’s get more people into work. Let’s give more people a purpose. 

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