London: State Should Provide Opportunities For People Recovering From Mental Illness: Charity

7 Feb

The public sector must do more to provide job opportunities for those recovering from mental illness, a leading charity has urged.

Mentally ill ‘not helped by state’ Enlarge photo

While many private businesses in Northern Ireland have offered work or training placements to recovering sufferers, state employers, including government departments, have not made the same commitments, according to Action Mental Health (AMH).

Highlighting the positive benefits work can have on well being, charity chief executive David Babington said engagement from the public sector could be cost effective.

Commenting ahead of the launch of the organisation’s manifesto at Stormont, Mr Babington said that while the private sector has engaged well in recent times, the public sector needed to open itself up in the same manner.

“Work is not only central to most people’s lives; it has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health,” he said.

“AMH deliver training programmes and support work based training and employment placements with a view to helping our clients re-enter the workforce, helping more than 1,700 people each year.

“We have developed very positive links with many businesses in the private sector, but the largest employer in Northern Ireland, the public sector needs to engage further than it has to date.

“With the cooperation of the public sector, these schemes could be extended at little cost, with huge benefit both to the people involved and to the wider economy.”

AMH pointed to research that found that cases of mental illness are 25% higher in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain, while funding is 25% less.

The charity said its call for positive engagement from the public sector comes at a time when the impact of the recession on its services is already being felt, with an increase in referrals. Many of the effects of the recession – repossessions, money problems and unemployment – are well known triggers for mental health problems.

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