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Mental Health

Individuals with mental health problems often find it difficult to obtain and sustain paid employment.


We know that having access to good quality and fair work can contribute to positive outcomes in both physical and mental health.

We also know that the global Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the population’s mental health, both immediate and in the longer term.

Some of the challenges faced by those with mental ill health when trying to obtain and sustain employment include:

  • Stigma and discrimination, including employer discrimination and self-stigma and anticipated discrimination.
  • Perception that work will lead to worsened mental health (although there is evidence to suggest that unemployment is more likely to be detrimental to mental health).
  • Poor work record due to fluctuating levels of impairment.
  • Low expectations of health care professions who assume that individuals will never be able to work.
  • Lack of access to support services.
  • Lack of partnership working between agencies and services.
  • Fear of losing benefits or being financially worse off in work.

Current Policy Development

In October 2020 the Scottish Government published the Mental Health – Transition and Recovery Plan which sets out over 100 actions to respond to the impacts of Covid-19 on the population’s mental health. Among these are a set of actions specifically focussed around employability and creating mentally healthy workplaces.

The Scottish Government wants to ensure that everybody who can and wants to work has the opportunity to find fulfilling and sustainable employment suitable to their needs and skills, and those facing barriers to employment, including many people who suffer from mental ill health can access any additional support they need.

Building on the Fairer Scotland Acton Plan the Scottish Government will embed mental health support into employability initiatives. In addition, Mental Health policy teams have strengthened links with Employability teams, with a particular focus on improving support for those with mental health issues to secure and sustain employment.

Work is already underway to take forward recommendations from a recent review on Individual Placement Support (IPS). IPS is a model of supported employment for people with severe and enduring mental illness, whereby employment specialists and clinical teams work together to support participants to obtain and sustain paid employment.

The Transition and Recovery plan will be delivered in conjunction with the Scottish Government’s ‘Mental Health Strategy 2017-27’. The strategy is the Scottish Government’s 10 year vision of a Scotland where people can get the right help at the right time, expect recovery, and fully enjoy their rights, free from discrimination and stigma.

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