Work Confirmed As Beneficial To Mental Health!

An independent report shows that being out of work is bad for both mind and body – progressively damaging health and decreasing life expectancy. The comprehensive review of more than 400 pieces of scientific evidence, Is Work Good for your Health and Well-being? concludes that being in work is good for your physical and mental health, boosting self esteem and quality of life. Adverse health effects of being out of work include higher rates of mental health problems than the general population, as well as increased likelihood of suicide, disability and obesity.

The evidence reveals however that this can be reversed – when people return to work from unemployment their health improves by as much as unemployment damages it. The review shows that being in work can help people recover from both physical and mental health problems.

Meeting members of Horizon House, a scheme which offers work-based rehabilitation and job opportunities with local employers, DWP Minister Lord Hunt said: “The people I have met today are living proof of the undeniable link between work and well-being.

“Work is good for individuals and their families, and by lifting people out of poverty it also benefits communities by increasing prosperity while reducing health and wealth inequalities. This review reinforces our commitment to helping more people into work, improving the health of working age people and tackling the root causes of ill-health.”

The Government’s Health Work and Well-being strategy will be led by Dame Carol Black, who took up her post as the first National Director for Health and Work on 29th August 2006.

Dame Carol is one of the country’s top doctors and was previously president of the Royal College of Physicians. She will spearhead initiatives that improve health in the workplace and ensure people with health conditions and disabilities are supported to enter, return and continue in work.

The review highlights a lack of understanding among healthcare professionals of the benefits of work. A series of initiatives are being progressed to help engage, educate and support GPs and other healthcare professionals. These will help them understand the links between work and health, the long-term consequences of signing patients off sick, and the role they can play in helping their patients remain in or return to work.

Dame Carol said: “I am determined to raise awareness among healthcare professionals that being out of work has a real and negative impact on people’s mental and physical health. Very few doctors and nurses understand that work is health giving. Work is an intrinsic part of improving and maintaining health. It is crucial that GPs bear this in mind when offering advice and support to people with all types of health condition.”

A key strand of the HWWB strategy is the commitment to improve access to talking therapies for adults of working age. Visiting the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies pilot site in Doncaster, Health Minister Rosie Winterton said:

“We have always known that work matters and the review being published today proves this conclusively. People in work have better health than those outside work and the 2004 White Paper Choosing Health made clear that work can improve your mental and physical health, reduce health inequalities and improve life chances for people and their families. Widening access to psychological therapies is a key element of our strategy.

“Employers and the NHS share the burden of ill health, with millions of working days lost to ill health every year. Achieving business goals at the same time as improving health leads to improved staff morale, recruitment and retention.

“The Health Work and Wellbeing strategy demonstrates the significant government commitment to work together and across communities to make it easier for working age people to choose health. The review being published today is another step towards that goal.”