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Mental health patients need employment support, says research

The recognition of mental health symptoms needs to improve so sufferers can stay in employment, says new research published today.

A report from Lancaster University's Work Foundation suggests that around one in six people of working age are experiencing mental health problems at any one time. However, employers often misinterpret cognitive symptoms as poor performance so people with mental health problems may lose their jobs, the research suggests.

These symptoms include poor concentration, difficulty with decision-making, and negative thinking, the paper Symptoms of Depression and their effects on Employment points out.

Emer O'Neill, chief executive of The Depression Alliance said: “People with depression can and want to work. For many the stigma and lack of knowledge about depression from employers and colleagues is often the reason that people lose their jobs. This paper demonstrates the need for training and practical support that can make life so much easier for all.”

The report recommends health care professionals are encouraged to view employment as a treatment outcome for patients with depression, and enhancing their understanding. Also, it suggests there should be out-of-hours access to treatment services and that the NHS should lead by example and provide best practice to support its own employees.