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People with mental health conditions get extra support to stay in work - DWP Press release

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Joined: 09/03/2008

 <Thousands of people with mental health problems will get extra support managing their condition to remain in the workplace, Jim Knight, Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform announced today.<


Early indications of the government led pilots, run in conjunction with the mental health charity Mind, have shown to be 90 per cent successful in helping people with fluctuating mental health conditions retain their jobs. <

Based on this trial, the Government is now looking to extend the support, with an expectation of rolling out nationally with a range of providers.<

Jim Knight, Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform, 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."<

Further radical measures introduced by the Government include:<

Fay (29) from London, who took part in a pilot, said:<

"The support was great and l wish it had been there when l was previously off sick from work.  I found it particularly helpful in the way it kept me in contact with my employer while I was off – I never felt completely isolated from work.<

“I found myself doing things that I normally would have found terrifying.  I wouldn’t have been able to cope on my own and definitely wouldn’t have gone back to work without the support given.  I would recommend this service to others with a similar condition."<

Sophie Corlett, Mind's Director of External Relations, said:<

"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."<

Notes to Editor:<

Media Enquiries:< 0203 267 5137
Out of hours:< 07659 108 883

anonymous (not verified)
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Middle-aged male smokers with high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels face dying about 10 years before healthier counterparts, a study warns.

The UK study looked at more than 19,000 civil servants aged 40-69 and traced what happened to them 38 years later.

It concluded that men with these three risk factors could expect a 10-year shorter life from 50 years of age.

The British Heart Foundation said it was an important reminder for everyone over 40 to have a heart health check.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, was set up in 1967-70 at the peak of the vascular disease epidemic in the UK.

Participants had their height, weight, blood pressure, lung function, cholesterol and blood glucose levels measured and completed a questionnaire about their previous medical history, smoking habits, employment grade and marital status.

Current smokers made up 42% of the men, 39% had high blood pressure and 51% had high cholesterol.

They were followed up nearly 40 years later in 2005 by which time 13,501 had died.

Risk factors

26% men & 25% women in England aged 35-49 smoke<
23% men & 22% women in England aged 50-59 smoke<
34% men & 26% women in England aged 45-54 have high blood pressure<
74% men & 78% women in England aged 45-54 have high cholesterol<
Source: BHF<

The researchers from the University of Oxford focused on smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol because they are the main cardiovascular risk factors.

But when they broadened it out to look at all risk factors including obesity, diabetes and employment grade, they found a 15-year life expectancy difference between the 5% with the highest number of risk factors and the 5% who had the lowest number of risk factors.

The proportion of deaths attributed to vascular disease in old age has declined from about 60% in 1950 to less than 40% in 2005 for both men and women.

Dr Robert Clarke, of the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University, led the study.


Nobody can guarantee that if you live the life of a saint and the diet of a rabbit that you will live longer

Gremlin-UK, Manchester, UK<

He said: "We've shown that men at age 50 who smoke, have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels can expect to survive to 74 years of age, while those who have none of these risk factors can expect to live until 83.

"It is precisely this kind of very prolonged follow-up study that is necessary to get these results - that modest differences in heart risk factors can accurately predict significant differences in life expectancy.

"The results give people another way of looking at heart disease risk factors that can be understood more readily.

"If you stop smoking or take measures to deal with high blood pressure or body weight, it will translate into increased life expectancy. "

Healthy life

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, said: "This important study puts a figure on the life-limiting effects of smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

"It provides a stark illustration of how these risk factors in middle-age can reduce life expectancy.

"The good news is that all of us can make changes to help us live a healthy life for longer, even after 50.

"We know that stopping smoking and reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, by lifestyle changes and/or tablets, can prevent the onset of heart disease - and these findings suggest it could make a decade of difference to our lives.

"Although the study only involved men, there is no reason why the same should not apply to women.

"So, I urge all men and women over 40 to have a health check - that all GPs can provide - which will include finding out their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and starting to address any areas of concern."

Jane Landon, deputy chief executive of the National Heart Forum, said: "Public health strategies to discourage smoking and promote healthy eating and active lifestyles from childhood are vital to prevent the accumulation in middle age of these avoidable risk factors."

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: "These findings also help to explain why people who are less well off are more likely to die younger.

"Poorer people tend to smoke more, eat less healthy diets and suffer more psychosocial stress - all adding to their risk of heart disease. These are the people who need help most."<

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A flagship government strategy to train an army of therapists to get the nation off antidepressants and into work could be dramatically scaled back amid claims it is experiencing problems.

The government claims the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (Iapt) programme will treat 900,000 people and help about half of them to make a full recovery. It also aims to get 25,000 people suffering from anxiety and depression off sick pay and benefits by 2010/11.

But the Observer understands there are now concerns about whether these targets can be met. The Iapt Expert Reference Group – the body that oversees the implementation of the programme – was told last month that only 400 out of the 3,600 therapists needed to run it are fully trained.

Only 2,000 patients who have completed a course have so far come off benefits, suggesting the target of 25,000 by 2010/11 will be difficult to achieve. A number of core staff responsible for its roll-out have been asked to reapply for their jobs.

It has also emerged that the lion's share of the £173m budget for the programme will not be ringfenced as mental health experts had originally believed. Instead the remaining £100m yet to be allocated will be spent however NHS trusts choose.

Experts said that in the jaws of a recession this will "inevitably" mean the money will be transferred from the programme to other more "visible" frontline NHS services, a move that will have a drastic impact on its efficacy.

The possibility is likely to dismay the programme's supporters who believe it offers a vital alternative to the tens of millions of antidepressants, such as Seroxat and Prozac, that are prescribed by doctors in the UK every year. Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which helps people challenge negative thought patterns, the programme, which will run until 2011, has been heavily promoted by the government as an antidote to "Sicknote Britain".

Around 15% of the population suffers from depression or anxiety. The two cost the UK taxpayer some £12bn a year and some million people are off work and claiming benefits because of mental health problems. Professor Lord Richard Layard, a former government adviser whose 2006 report on depression was instrumental in establishing the programme, has claimed that, after fewer than 16 CBT sessions, at least half of people with depression or clinical anxiety will see significant improvement in their mental health.

The programme was recently expanded to help people who have lost their jobs during the recession. But a special hotline set up to offer counselling to them is receiving only about 25 calls a month because few people are aware of its existence.

"Iapt is a great idea whose implementation seems to have gone wrong," said David Pink, chief executive officer of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, which has argued for the scheme to be expanded to include more forms of therapy. "Now there is a danger it no longer seems to be improving access to psychological therapies."

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrats' health spokesman, said it was "utterly outrageous" that the government did not intend to protect the programme's budget. "It will inevitably be curtailed as a result," he said. "The same thing will happen this time round as in the last recession – mental health will lose out because it's an easy target."

Insiders blamed the way the programme had been introduced for some of its "teething" problems. There has also been confusion over how NHS trusts are recording their performance. Last month the Department of Health issued them with new guidance on targets, the fourth time it has done so. One person familiar with the programme said it did little to encourage a relationship between practitioner and patient and that "some patients ended up spending more time filling in forms than being with someone".

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "In its initial stages, much of the Iapt programme funding was allocated centrally, but as the service becomes better established we are discussing how best to make the change to more conventional arrangements."