New measures to help sufferers of depression and anxiety back to work

Department of Health logoNew measures to help unemployed people experiencing depression or anxiety back to work were announced last week by the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell.

The government is investing £13m in the support package, which will fund provisions such as:

  • A faster roll out of talking therapy services across the UK in 2009
  • Employment support workers linked to every talking therapy service
  • Health advisers on a dedicated NHS Direct phone

It’s hoped that many of those on long-term sick leave or unable to find work because of depression will be helped to recover and return to work.

Around six million adults in the UK have depression or anxiety and many of these remain on incapacity benefits as they are unable to seek work. In past recessions, we have seen the number of out-of-work people on inactive benefits rise, so these measures are one element of action being taken to prevent this happening again.

In the West Midlands, 95,000 people are claiming incapacity benefits due to a mental or behavioural problem. This is the most common reason for claiming incapacity benefits.

The Observatory’s upcoming Baseline Report on Economic Inclusion, due to be published on 27th March 2009, will provide analysis of the incapacity benefit problem in the West Midlands and wider issues of worklessness in the region.

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