Blog #7 Recovery and employment
Finally, to the specific question of employment. It is worth remembering that people with mental health problems still have the lowest employment rate of any disabled group and, according to National Patient survey data, only 43% report receiving any support in finding or keeping work and just under half of those not receiving help would have liked it. Thus, while it is certainly true that not everyone with mental health difficulties wants paid employment, many do and not simply for financial reasons (although the benefits of extra income for people who are close to poverty are not to be underestimated). However, meaningful work also has psychological and social benefits and these are sometimes just as important as money. ‘I definitely want to work in something that I feel I’m contributing” ..… “I feel like I have a lot of untapped potential, if I can stay well I can make something of my life”….The hardest thing about having a mental illness is the feeling that you’re constantly taking, that people are always giving to you, that people are always supporting you….. Recovery has been about actually looking at ways I can give back to other people that I care about. That makes me feel good”
Thus, as Rachel Perkins has said many times, it is surely as bad to condemn someone with mental health problems to a life of boredom, worklessness and social isolation, as it is to force them back into employment in positions which they don’t want and find stressful or demeaning. At the very least we should be aiming to offer specialist, effective help for all those who wish to return to work as a matter of routine practice. This would mean making developments like ‘Individual Placement and Support (IPS) available as a standard element in local mental health services not, as they currently are, a very rare commodity.