NEW FIGURES show that people with mental health problems are less likely to find employment than those without them.

NHS Digital data revealed by Radar shows that in March, employment rates in Cumbria for those of working age was roughly 76 per cent but for those with mental health problems it was 62 per cent.

The employment gap has narrowed since the year before, when 65 per cent of people with mental health problems were employed compared to 81 per cent of the general population.

Reacting to the news, Copeland Borough Council’s mental health champion Carl Walmsley said: “There are a number of reasons, but the main one being a lack of services available means that a lot of people don’t get the treatment required to put them on the road to recovery.

“In some cases, individuals can be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for between seven and 10 years. With Cumbria having one of the most poorly resourced mental health services in the UK, this will sadly result in people who are not adequately treated being declared as unfit or unsuitable for work.”

The Individual Placement and Support Employment Service run by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust looks to support people who are treated by the Community Mental Health Teams to find, or stay in work.

It focuses on giving each person personalised support to help them find a job that is suited to them. Once someone is in work, the employer and the employee then receive support from the IPS team, with no time-limit on that support.

John Bolland, service lead for the individual placement support employment service said: “Good, fulfilling, paid work can be really important to improving someone’s mental health, self-esteem, and overall wellbeing.

“On average, nationally 70-90 per cent of people with a mental health problem would like to go into work, but only 37 per cent are in paid employment. For people with a severe mental health illness, it is just eight per cent.

“That’s what we are working to change.

“The opportunity to work if you would like to is a fundamental right and we believe no one should be excluded from working.”