Schizophrenia and Employment

We know that work is generally good for people's mental health, and that a significant percentage of people with severe mental illness can and would like to be in employment. However, employment rates for people with severe and enduring mental illness remain low.

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.

SANE's employment survey

From December 2012 to January 2013, SANE carried out a survey of 79 people with schizophrenia, which included questions about the impact of their condition as well as their experiences of the health service, levels of employment support received and the attitudes of employers. 

The key areas where barriers to employment were identified were:

• Access to healthcare and employment support programmes.

• Levels of encouragement from healthcare professionals.

• Stigma and discrimination from employers.

Download the following report to learn more about the key issues that were identfiied by our survey respondents.

Task and finish group

In October 2013, the task and finish group (T&F Group) was set up to support the development of three key policy levers which were identified as important opportunities to better incentivise and support the commissioning of employment support services for people with severe mental illness locally. These are described in more detail in the section below.

Chaired by Marjorie Wallace, SANE's chief executive, and Paul Burstow MP, the T&F Group's membership is drawn from across the NHS, Department for Work and Pensions, and mental health organisations.

Latest progress

A parliamentary reception was held in Janaury 2015, on behalf of the Mental Illness and Employment Task and Finish Group (T&F Group), to launch its 2014 Progress Report to parliamentarians and stakeholders, and look forward to how the group can continue to provide support and challenge in order to improve employment for people with severe and enduring mental illness.

Since its formation, the T&F Group has achieved a number of important outputs, including:

• Development of an indicator on employment rates of people with severe and enduring mental illness in the clinical commissioning outcome indicator set (CCG OIS).

• Development of a CQUIN target for NHS providers around supporting adults in contact with secondary mental health services to gain and retain employment.

• Inclusion of a quality statement on employment in the proposed quality standard on schizophrenia.