New book questions old assumptions about mental health and employment

Published: 3 November 2005 at 12:15

A new book featuring international research on mental health is challenging the old assumption that people who experience severe and enduring mental health problems are unable to work, unless or until they recover. The book was officially launched (1 November) at an event staged at Anglia Ruskin University's Rivermead campus in Chelmsford.

A new book featuring international research on mental health is challenging the old assumption that people who experience severe and enduring mental health problems are unable to work, unless or until they recover. The book was officially launched (1 November) at an event staged at Anglia Ruskin University's Rivermead campus in Chelmsford.

New Thinking About Mental Health and Employment, edited by Bob Grove, Jenny Secker and Patience Seebohm demonstrates that, with the right support, people suffering from mental health problems can succeed in finding and keeping a job even when they continue to need support from mental health services.

Described as 'vital reading at both policy and practitioner level', this book will be of great interest to mental health nurses, social workers, general practitioners, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, employment advisors and government departments.

Commenting on the launch of the new book Jenny Secker, who is Professor of Mental Health at South Essex Partnership NHS Trust and the Institute of Health and Social Care at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

"This new book draws together the research undertaken to date and vividly illustrates key themes with mental health service users' perspectives. It looks at where we are today in terms of social inclusion and employment; and supports ideas for the future development of a more progressive employment strategy that can be rolled out across the UK."

"This is ground-breaking material for the mental health sector. The research contained within the book could help to make a real difference to the daily lives of users of mental health services, and their families, by getting more people back into work, more quickly."

Jenny Secker co-edited the book with Bob Grove and Patience Sebohm, who work together at the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health in London. Public sector contributions were provided by Rachel Perkins, Clinical Director and Miles Rinalidi, Vocational Services Manager, at South West London and St Georges' NHS Trust, and by Justine Schneider, Professor of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

Jenny is currently working with Bob Grove, Justine Schneider and other colleagues on the first national evaluation of employment support in England. At the South Essex Partnership NHS Trust she is supporting the development of an evidence-based employment strategy, She has also been instrumental in establishing SE-SURG, the South Essex Service User Research, whose members carry out research with training and support from Jenny.

Managers within the UK are being encouraged to talk to staff more openly about mental health issues to bring about a culture of greater awareness into the workplace. Training programmes for staff can also help to ensure that people experiencing mental health problems are treated fairly while at work.

Dr Patrick Geoghegan OBE, Chief Executive, South Essex Partnership NHS Trust, said:

"This book is a major new tool for the integration of service users into the workforce and we are very proud of the work being undertaken by Jenny Secker and her colleagues to ensure that people receive the skills they need and to be treated equally by employers. Employment is fundamental to inclusion and vital for people's self esteem, this is particularly pertinent for service users and this book will be the standard bearer for the future."