Policy-critical recommendations on mental health, welfare conditionality and employment just launched

Issued: Mon, 02 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT

University of Glasgow scholars in partnership with social security and mental health experts have launched a series of recommendations to help support people with mental health problems in entering, maintaining, and returning to work.

The Glasgow project team, including Professor Sharon Wright; Professor Vittal Katikireddi, Professor Nick BaileyDr Alasdair Stewart and Dr Anna Gawlewicz, have launched a series of policy recommendations on mental health, welfare conditionality and employment.

The recommendations have been co-produced with the social security and mental health experts including Poverty Alliance, Inclusion Scotland and Mind. The recommendations are informed by research funded by the Health Foundation.

This comes out at a time when the UK’s social security system is struggling to support people with mental health problems in entering, maintaining and returning to work, and the levels of mental ill health have been on the rise as a result of Covid-19.

Following a series of workshops with 28 social security and mental health experts in Scotland and England, key recommendations suggested by Professor Wright and the project team are:

  1. Build a trusted and transparent social security system, where people with mental health problems are not subject to a one-size-fits-all approach to conditionality.
  2. Provide personalised support and improve the experiences of people with mental health problems in Jobcentre Plus.
  3. UK and Scottish Governments should provide sustainable investment to evidence-based, personalised employability interventions for people with mental health problems. Specifically, Individual Placement and Support services should be fully integrated into UK and Scottish employability provision.

Professor Wright, based at the School of Social and Political Sciences, said: “Reform is urgently needed to the current provision of employment support for people with mental health problems across the UK.

“Mental health needs to be better recognised in our social security system and people with mental health problems need much more support without the fear of losing entitlement.”

The Health Foundation funded research that informs the recommendations finds that there are huge discrepancies between the UK’s policy statements and the actual experience of people with mental health problems. Despite being increasingly present in policy documents, mental health remains invalidated within the welfare system.

Furthermore, the experience of welfare conditionality among people with mental health problems is largely negative. The pressures arising from conditionality and its disempowering nature are likely to exacerbate mental health problems.    

The full report is available to download HERE.