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Government to extend support for people with mental health problems so they can keep working

People with mental health problems are to get extra support to remain at work, according to Jim Knight, minister of state for employment reform.

The Government is to extend its support for people with mental health problems, following a 90% success rate in its pilot scheme.

New measures will include a strategy document for mental health in employment, which will be published this autumn. This will outline what is expected of employers, healthcare professionals and individuals in how to improve wellbeing at work.

The Government has asked Rachel Perkins, a mental health expert, and Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, the national association for mental health, to devise ways to better help people with mental health problems to return to work.

Mental health experts will also be placed across Jobcentre Plus to co-ordinate support for people with mental health conditions. And disabled people, including those with mental health problems, are to be given greater choice of how public money is spent on their individual needs and ambitions.

The Government also intends to double the Access to Work Fund over the next five years from £69 million to £138 million, providing practical advice and financial support to disabled people and their employers to help them overcome work-related obstacles resulting from disability.

Knight said: "I know disabled people dearly want to stay in work and their employers want to do everything they can to keep good staff. Our plans to offer the right help early on can end the downward spiral of people falling out of work into sick leave, and onto benefits. We are all agreed that helping people stay in work is good news for them, their bosses and for the taxpayer."

And Sophie Corlett, Mind's director of external relations, added: "If employers put their mind to it and provide the right support they can keep their staff mentally well and fit for the workplace.

"People with mental health problems want to work but are often failed by employers who lack the understanding or the skills to provide the necessary support. We welcome the Government's increased investment in mental health, particularly during these difficult economic times when now more than ever people need the support and understanding of their employers."