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Mental health services to be boosted to help sufferers into work and provide support and advice for employers

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The Government plans a 'radical overhaul' of its support for people with mental conditions, recognizing that employment can play a crucial role for their improved wellbeing.

New specialist co-ordinators and dedicated advice lines for small businesses are part of the radical overhaul of support.

Increasing job opportunities for people with mental health conditions and improving the wellbeing of workers is part of a wide-ranging new Government vision to enhance mental health services and boost the wellbeing of the whole population.

According to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), people with mental health conditions will be able to rely on new support to help them manage their conditions so they can stay in work or get back to work as quickly as possible if they lose their job or have never worked.

The new support includes the launch of a new network of mental health co-ordinators in every Jobcentre Plus district to better co-ordinate health and employment support at a local level and improve the employment chances of Jobcentre Plus customers; and nine occupational health advice line pilots to give small businesses in Britain the support they need to keep people in work when health issues arise. These advice lines will give employers direct access to occupational health professionals and direct employers to the advice and services they require.

Ministers are also looking at ways to extend the highly successful Access to Work programme to specifically help more people with mental health conditions to get and stay in work.

Secretary of state for work and pensions Yvette Cooper said: "The vast majority of people with mental health conditions work, but for some people it can be very hard to stay in a job. If people fall out of work and onto benefits it is even harder for them to get back into work as it can be a real knock to their confidence.

"We know that work is good for people and that's why we want to give everyone the support they need to stay in a job, or get back to work. Today we are giving people with mental health conditions this support. We are also helping employers understand what they can do to help people stay in their jobs and manage their condition so that they don't have to leave work and fall onto benefits at all."

The DWP also commissioned a review, led by Dr Rachel Perkins, to offer advice on improving support for people who are out of work and have mental health conditions. The report is also launched today.

Perkins added: "People with mental health conditions remain among the most excluded within our society, particularly in the workplace. We know that work improves mental health and wellbeing and most people with a mental health condition would like to be in work and pursue a career.

"The review's recommendations are wide-ranging and challenging for Government. However, at their heart they set a vision for how employment, health and social services can better work together to provide co-ordinated support for people with mental health conditions."

Remploy welcomed the announcement, following its findings that 69% of employers were unlikely to hire someone with a mental disability.

Tim Matthews, Remploy's chief executive, said: "The vast majority of people with mental health issues can work and, with the right support, many will thrive. The key is to place people in work quickly and then provide support as long as they need it."