The new co-ordinators will be based in Jobcentre Plus districts at a cost of £1 million to improve job opportunities for those who may feel apprehensive or stigmatised about returning to work. A Two-year pilot for occupational health phone lines will cost a further £4 million and another pilot scheme to meet costs of temporary staff when workers with mental health problems need to take time off has also been agreed by ministers.
Mental health already uses the biggest proportion of the NHS budget, with 13 per cent of all funds going on community, hospital and drug and alcohol addiction services. Almost 15 per cent of the population suffer from clinical anxiety or depression at any one time so this new scheme hopes to reduce the £40 billion cost to the economy and have even gone as far as setting up advice lines for small businesses and employers to give them direct access to health professionals.
The proposals have been welcomed by charities and health campaigners but they have made a point of alling for long term funding. Paul Jenkins, chief executive of Rethink, the mental health charity, said: “With the right backing, the New Horizons strategy could revolutionise the quality of life and care available to people affected by severe mental illness.”