Still dreaming: Service users' employment, education & training goals
Authors: Secker, J., Gelling, L. and Kent, L.
Journal: Journal of Mental Health
Background: Enabling service users to find and keep real jobs is a significant strand of UK mental health policy. An evidence-based approach to employment support is well documented, but is not widely implemented in the UK. Aim: To inform the development of vocational services in South Essex by ascertaining service users' employment, education and training goals. Method: Face-to-face interviews with a randomly selected sample of service users on enhanced CPA carried out by a team of service user researchers using an adapted version of a questionnaire developed for a previous similar survey. A postal survey of a further randomly selected sample of service users on enhanced CPA using a brief version of the questionnaire was also carried out. Results: Interviews were carried out with 82 service users. A further 159 returned a postal questionnaire. 42.7% had no regular day time activity. Only 15% were in paid work. 60.6% were definitely interested in finding work. Seventy-seven percent of respondents to the interviews who were interested in work were not currently receiving support to achieve this. The main help wanted was support in work, help with mental health problems and benefits advice. The main barriers identified were employers' attitudes and threat to benefits. Service user researchers reported benefits from undertaking the work. Conclusions: High numbers of mental health service users are interested in pursuing employment, education or training goals but currently lack the support they need to do so. Implementation of an evidence-based approach to employment support has the potential to enable service users to achieve their goals. Service users are well able to undertake research with considerable benefits for themselves and other stakeholders. Declaration of interest: None. © Shadowfax Publishing and Taylor & Francis.