Worklessness is a key priority for PHE. Evidence suggests that having a job is one of the most effective ways to stay healthy. However, the improvement in the health of individuals after they return to work and the financial benefits this results in for the economy have rarely been measured - this needs to change.
What we know
Being out of work is damaging to people’s health and wellbeing regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or region, and the longer the period of unemployment the worse the impact.
It is known that mental health problems are a key cause of worklessness, whether work-related or not. One in four adults experience poor health each year and half of those claiming Employment and Support Allowance do so on the basis of a mental health claim.
As a result, we know that mental health is a mainstream issue for our welfare system. An effective programme that helps individuals to move into work cannot be designed without addressing the impact of poor mental health on the ability of many to find work.
What is being done about it?
There has been some progress over the past five years, with the evidence base developing around which health and work interventions are most likely to have an impact and how cost effective they are.
However, there is a need for a tool supporting the case for investment in Health and Work interventions at local level, for commissioning organisations such as Local Authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Jobcentre Plus, charities and others. This will enable them to work together to commission interventions that will support those with poor mental health into employment.
Our new tool is designed to do this, and to support both local commissioners and national policymakers to make the case for investment. The tool, which is user-friendly and has an integrated guide, provides localised outcomes around the savings to the individual, health system, government and society that arise from moving individuals back into work. These savings are broken down into their component parts, to show which savings are made to each part of the system.
The tool accompanies wider research that supports evidence around the benefits of employment and will help to equip decision-makers with the evidence needed to support the case for better investment in public health areas aimed at alleviating worklessness.
What will the impact be?
A healthy population is one that has the potential to be a healthy and productive workforce for industry.
Moving into employment can have a transformative effect on the lives of those with poor mental health. By working together to commission effective employment support we can help people reach their full potential and lead happy, fulfilling lives.
Better investment in tackling worklessness will likely lead to better outcomes for the individuals transitioning into employment, their families and their wider local communities.
Ultimately this work and investment will lead to an overall more healthy and inclusive society. This is key to attracting and retaining businesses and developing dynamic and diverse communities that are sustainable for the future and will support the economic growth of the UK.
You can access our mental health toolkits for employers here.