Mental ill-health is a growing cause of unemployment in the West Midlands

Mental health and employment report coverA new report, Mental Health and Employment in the West Midlands (PDF, 483kb) by the West Midlands Regional Observatory highlights the growing problem of mental ill-health in the region.

Following the Economic Inclusion Baseline Report for the West Midlands (PDF, 2.16mb) published in April 2009, which found mental ill-health to be one of the biggest causes of worklessness in the region, our new report focuses on the issue of mental health and employment.

The report provides information and statistics on the links between mental health problems and employment issues within the West Midlands, as well as reviewing recent research and policy options aimed at overcoming employment barriers.

Key findings

  • Mental health problems are increasingly widespread, with 1 in 4 people affected by some form of mental health problem during their lives, and 1 in 6 suffering diagnosable problems at any given time.
  • Among those experiencing mental health problems in the West Midlands only 29% are in employment, compared to 61% of those with any health problem, and 72% for the general population.
  • Around 96,000 people in the West Midlands are claiming sickness benefits due to a mental health problem, and this is the most common reason for claiming.
  • Unemployment is acknowledged to have a negative effect on mental health, so the recession and rising unemployment places many more people at risk of mental ill-health.
  • People with mental health problems face more stigma and discrimination than do people with physical health problems, with employers reluctant to employ them.

Tackling the stigma of mental ill-health and providing people with the support they need to return to work is a major challenge for the region.

Rising unemployment places many more people at risk of developing mental health problems in the short term.

This report examines the range of policy interventions that are currently aiming to address this issue, at regional and national level.

This report forms part of a series of ‘spotlight reports’ which look in detail at a key issue causing worklessness in the West Midlands. These reports are all available to download from our economic inclusion research publications page.

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