19 December 2008
By Paul Dicken
The government's ambitious plans to help people with mental health problems find and keep jobs must be supported by a 'skilled rehabilitation workforce', experts have said.
In a joint report published on December 8, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and the College of Occupational Therapists claimed there was a shortage of people with the necessary skills to support jobseekers and those wanting to stay at work.
The government has acknowledged the benefits of vocational rehabilitation and is providing support for employers to promote mental health at work and for the NHS to do more to keep people in work.
But Julia Scott, chief executive of the College of Occupational Therapists, said there was a lack of therapists to cope with increased demand for services.
She added: 'The government needs to invest in training more occupational therapists in order to ensure it has a suitably qualified workforce in place to deliver on the improving health and work agenda.'
Dr Bob Grove, Sainsbury Centre employment programme director, said 'fit notes' and help for small businesses were welcome innovations in this area.
He added: 'The last recession created a “lost generation” of workers who were written off as incapable of work. We must not let this happen again. The real test of welfare-to-work is whether employers recruit and retain people with disabilities in tough times.'