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.

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Your health and the economic recession

Logo: West Midlands Public Health ObservatoryIt is not a surprise that the current crisis has hit our wallets, but have you thought about the implications that this may have on your health?

Every day the media delivers rather pessimistic news around unemployment going up, more companies going bust, redundancies and future job losses.

The contraction of our disposable income combined with the gloomy picture we perceive generates fear, stress and concerns that can result in a diverse range of health issues ranging from obesity to mental and cardiovascular diseases.

In order to avoid considerable harm to the health across the region, the West Midlands Public Health Observatory (WMPHO) brought together local and health authorities from all over the region to discuss how to face this major issue.

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How is the West Midlands cultural sector performing during the recession?

Ironbridge with views of Telford townEconomic research launched in March 2009 by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory has helped to shed light on how the region’s cultural and creative sector is performing during the current economic downturn — an area which has not been the subject of sustained research in the past.

The economic snapshot paper (Word, 306KB) includes the results of a small scale survey which explores how levels of visitors and revenue have been affected in cultural venues such as museums, arts centres and visitor attractions.

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New research on the impact of culture in the West Midlands

Culture and prosperity report coverNew research produced by the West Midlands Cultural Observatory has boosted understanding of the social and economic role that culture has played in the West Midlands over recent years.

Long term economic trends suggest that the sector is expanding, employing more people and increasing its GVA and turnover output year-on-year.

For example, the Culture & Prosperity (PDF, 1.2MB) paper describes how the region’s creative industries had a 36% increase in turnover between 2004 and 2007: a level which exceeded the national average increase in turnover for creative industries (+13%) and the average growth in turnover within the whole West Midlands economy (+19%) over the same period.

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West Midlands economy contracting at faster rate than any other region

Up and down arrows on wood chippingsThe latest Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) report for the West Midlands reaffirms the declining economic outlook. Business activity and new orders fell at faster rates in February, with manufacturing particularly weak as the impact on the automotive sector is more acutely felt.

The PMI is one of the leading indicators monitored as part of the regional monthly economic outlook report prepared for the West Midlands Taskforce.

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Better environment, better lives

Lake view at Aston UniversityThe quality of the environment affects the quality of our lives. It is a reality that the poorest people are the ones living in the worst environmental conditions.

‘Environmental inequality’ was at the centre of the ‘Better Environments, Better Lives’ conference organised by the Environment Agency and Be Birmingham. The event, held on 27th February in Birmingham, raised the awareness of social and environmental inequalities and explored ideas of improving quality of life through environmental actions.

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Innovation and the recession: innovation workshop day 19th March 2009

Patrick HarrisThe Observatory is pleased to confirm Patrick Harris as the keynote speaker at our forthcoming Innovation Day, ‘From recession to growth – the importance of innovation in a changing economy‘.

The full day workshop will be held in the Technology Innovation Centre at Birmingham City University, on 19th March 2009.

View the full agenda (pdf, 91kb).

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