Mental Health Reform has today welcomed the commitments in the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities launched today to support people with mental health difficulties into employment.
Speaking at the launch, Director of Mental Health Reform, Shari McDaid, said, “The commitment in the strategy to improving integration between supported employment and mental health services is welcome. International evidence demonstrates that people with a mental health disability can gain competitive employment when they receive integrated employment and mental health support. The current involvement of the Department of Social Protection, Department of Health and HSE in a Genio-funded pilot of this approach is a positive step,” continued Dr. McDaid.
“While this strategy can bring focus to Government efforts on improving employment outcomes for people with experience of a mental health difficulty, it will only be a success if it is delivered. There is a need for a lead Department or agency to drive implementation and ensure that real and sustained impetus is brought to the goal of increasing the number of people with a mental health disability in work.”
“People with a mental health disability are nine times more likely to be outside the labour force than those without a disability. This represents a huge loss of talent to the Irish economy. Many would like to work but they face challenges to working including prejudice and discrimination, gaps in support and fears about losing benefits. Employers also struggle to know how to respond appropriately to mental health difficulties among their employees. We welcome the commitment to an employer helpline,” continued Dr. McDaid.
“Further work is needed to ensure that the income support system has the flexibility to allow people with a mental health disability to try work without fear of losing their benefit. People with experience of a mental health difficulty also need effective protection from discrimination in the workplace. Mental Health Reform looks forward to continuing our participation in the Disability Stakeholders Group and working with the relevant Departments and agencies so that people with a mental health disability can have the best chance of obtaining and sustaining employment,” concluded Dr. McDaid.