Supporting people in employment

It is well known that being in work is beneficial for mental health and well-being. Despite this, there are lots of people with mental health problems not in employment. A 2009 government strategy 'Work, recovery and inclusion' aimed to address differences in rates of employment for different groups.

What are the rates of employment in England?

The rate of people with a mental illness who are in employment has markedly increased from 26.6% in Q4 2006/07 to 40.1% in Q4 2015/16. From Q1 2011/12 there was a notable increase in the employment rate among people with a mental illness. There was also an increase in employment in the general population, but the rate of increase was not as fast, thus reducing the disparity between the two.

In Q4 2006/07 there was a 44.8 percentage point difference in employment rates between people with and without a mental illness and this had fallen to 34.2 percentage points by Q4 2015/16. This is a big improvement, but still a huge employment gap.

Updated September 2016

What proportion of people in secondary mental health services are employed?

People with more severe or complex mental health needs tend to have their care coordinated using the Care Programme Approach (CPA). The term 'CPA' describes a framework introduced in 1990 to support and coordinate effective mental health care for people with mental health problems in secondary mental health services. As part of the CPA, people should have regular care meetings. Here we look at what proportion of adults in these meetings is employed. Annual data shows that the proportion of adults on a CPA in employment has been decreasing year-on-year, from 9.5% in 2010-11 to 6.8% in 2014-15.

Updated September 2016

What proportion of adults with learning disabilities are in paid employment?

It is important that people with care and support needs have an enhanced quality of life, including being able to find employment when they want. Here we look at the proportion of adults with a learning disability who are in paid employment or who are self-employed.
The proportion of adults known to Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities with a learning disability in paid employment has been decreasing: from 7.1% in 2010-11 to 6.0% in 2014-15. A higher proportion of men with a learning disability are employed than women, although the size of the gap is decreasing: in 2014/15, 5.3% of women with a learning disability were in employment compared to 6.4% of men.

Updated September 2016

About this data

Employment rate of population

  • Numerator: Number of people who are in employment and of working age 
  • Denominator:Number of people who are of working age 

Employment rate of people with mental illness* 

  • Numerator: Number of people with mental illness in employment and of working age 
  • Denominator: Number of people with mental illness of working age 

Proportion of people in secondary mental health services who are employed

  • Numerator: The number of adults (aged 18-69) in the denominator in paid employment (i.e. those recorded as ‘employed’) at the time of their most recent assessment, formal review or other multi-disciplinary care planning meeting, in a financial year. 
  • Denominator: The total number of adults (aged 18-69) who have received secondary mental health services and who were on the Care Programme Approach at any point during the reported period.

* People with mental illness will be included here if:
  • they have a health problem or disabilities that they expect will last for more than a year
  • they have depression, bad nerves or anxiety; severe or specific learning difficulties (mental handicap) or mental illness; or suffer from phobia, panics or other nervous disorders.


Despite continued effort and rhetoric these levels remain seemingly intractably low.
Adults with learning disabilities are faced with a mountain of barriers to overcome to even gain voluntary employment let alone paid work. If they do manage to get paid employment further barriers then appear in relation to welfare benefits or the potential of discrimination and harrassment - it's hardly surprising that a further barrier; family resistance, makes things even more difficult!
There are solutions to all these different issues but they need to be worked through carefully, requiring consistant approaches and adequate resources - neither of which are abundantly available in social care circles.
New approaches to self-employment and micro-enterprises offer a viable way forward and must be resourced to suceed.

Hadyn Davies (not verified)
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Dear Hadyn,

Thank you for your comments and your interest in our project. We will take your feedback on board.

Kind regards.

QualityWatch Team (not verified)
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