Compared with a national employment rate of 71%, only 8 per cent of people with schizophrenia in the UK are in employment, and poor access to employment support interventions remains a major challenge.
It is well documented that employment is good for people’s mental health, and that people with schizophrenia frequently state that obtaining work is one of their goals for recovery. But there is currently far too little provision of evidence-based employment support, such as psychological therapies and schemes like Individual Placement and Support designed to help people in finding employment.
Improving employment opportunities for people with mental illness has been made a Government priority, through the development of key NHS, public health and social care outcome measures. But despite this national ambition, the Clinical Commissioning Groups which are critical in determining the services that people receive at local level have not been given any incentives to improve employment outcomes.
Following a study that SANE undertook into the employment experience of people with schizophrenia, we have brought together leading experts to consider ways in which employment and schizophrenia can be made local health priority. At a Parliamentary Roundtable Discussion in July 2013, the group identified key levers for change which are being examined by a Task and Finish Group. (See Task and Finish group - Parliamentary Briefing for an update on its work.)
Bringing about change will require sustained commitment and determination, but it will be a great step forward if as a result many more people with schizophrenia can be given the chance to work, not only as an important means to helping their recovery but in demonstrating the valuable contribution they can make in the work environment.
See the briefing document ‘Employment opportunities for people with schizophrenia: Making national ambitions a local health care priority’ for more information.
SANE's evidence is that statutory mental health support and care is still patchy, particularly at times of crisis, and there are not enough in-patient beds or supervised accommodation in the community.
To learn more about SANE's views on mental health services, download this PDF. In 2006, SANE investigated the impact of spending cuts on mental health services in London. The following video documents the impact this can have on the lives of ordinary people. SANE is concerned that we will face similar problems in 2011.
For some years, SANE has been aware of what amounts to almost an epidemic of self-harm, particularly among young men and women, which we believe must be seen as one of the key challenges for mental health services and other parts of the NHS such as accident and emergency departments. We are also concerned about social networks and websites that may encourage people to self-harm without encouraging them to seek treatment.
Insight into self-harm is well illustrated by the experience of a SANE campaigner: “I self-harm on a daily basis (often several times a day) and it affects everything I think and do. I hate it, but it is my way of coping and I now don’t know how I can cope without it."
SANE has completed an in-depth study of nearly 1,000 people, which revealed new insights into why people self-harm. This research is on-going, please click here to take part.
To read more information about SANE's research and campaign download this PDF.
Some 6,000 people take their lives each year in the UK, and suicide is the leading cause of death among young men aged between 25 and 34. SANE believes that many lives could be saved through improved care and responsiveness by mental health services, and we would like to see prevention given a higher priority.
We are embarking on a BIG Lottery-funded major study exploring the insights of people who have attempted suicide, as well as the perceptions of those close to them. We hope this will provide to help predict, treat and prevent suicidal behaviour and help families, friends and the wider community to support individuals who may be at risk.
Find out more about SANE's suicide research
Evidence from a variety of sources shows that care in the community for people with mental illness frequently operates in a fragmented way and fails to meet the needs of individuals and families in crisis. Still only half of those being cared for by specialist community mental health services have the number of someone to ring in crisis, and cutbacks in in-patient beds and units mean that there is often no sanctuary or refuge in hospital unless a person is so disturbed that they have to be detained.
Click here to read more about SANE's views on care in crisis.
Families and carers supporting people affected by mental ill health should have access to information on patient diagnosis, medication and care plan. Yet even when the patient agrees, some health professionals believe that patient confidentiality precludes it being disclosed. To find out more about SANE's views, download this PDF.
SANE has long campaigned for better access to psychological therapies, and we are pleased that their availability is being extended. But there are mixed views on how far the evidence used to support offering these therapies can determine which are most effective and why, and we would like to see analyisis of the experiences and outcomes for those who have received therapy in order to identify what kind of intervention works for whom, from both the patients’ and the clinicians’ points of view.