Queen's Speech: Welfare reforms 'must support people with mental health problems', say four leading organisations
Posted Wednesday 3 December 2008
Four leading mental health organisations have today united in calling on the Government to ensure that any welfare reform measures in the Queen's Speech (1) give the best possible support for people with mental health problems to find and keep jobs.
In a joint statement, Professor Dinesh Bhugra, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists; Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind; Angela Greatley, Chief Executive of Sainsbury Centre and Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive of Rethink, said:
"People with mental health problems will be one of the largest groups affected by the welfare reform agenda. International research shows that people with mental health problems want to work and by doing what works the majority of people can be supported into employment. Support should be offered to everyone, no matter what mental health problem they have, with a minimal threat of benefit penalties. Failing to follow the evidence or taking too punitive an approach to those with these problems will seriously undermine the Government's ambition to reduce the overall number of long term unemployed.
"Flexible support is vital. The Government has already recognised this by pledging to develop a national strategy for mental health and employment. We also welcome the Government's commitment to pilot a scheme to place employment specialists in a workplace to identify the necessary adaptations needed to help people with mental health problems remain in work.
"In the last recession, many people with mental health problems were written off as unemployable when they lost their jobs. Another recession will undoubtedly put pressure on the Government's initiatives to support people in finding and holding on to jobs. But we must ensure that we offer the right help at the right time to people experiencing mental distress, or we run the risk of creating a new 'lost generation'."
Notes to Editors
(1) The Queen's Speech takes place on 3 December 2008. It is likely to include proposals for a Welfare Reform Bill based on the Green Paper 'No one written off', published earlier in 2008, and the recommendations of Professor Paul Gregg's report 'More support, higher expectations', published on 2 December 2008.
For media enquiries to the four organisations please contact:
- Andy Bell, Sainsbury Centre, 020 7827 8353, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Liz Fox or Deborah Hart, Royal College of Psychiatrists', 020 7235 2351 ext. 298 or 127 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hilary Caprani or Vicky Trimikliniotis, 020 7840 3144 or 020 7840 3146, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Julia Lamb, Mind, 0208 522 1743 or email@example.com