Thrive London – Employment and Mental Health

You can download the final report here.

What is this research?

We were commissioned by the London Health Board and the London Mental Health & Employment Collaboration to carry out a small study to illustrate the experiences of Londoners who have been affected by serious mental health problems and are either in work or looking for a job. The study informed the development of the employment strand of Thrive London, the Mayor of London’s mental health campaign. Reflecting London’s diversity they were particularly interest in the experience of people from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background who are more likely to not be in work.

Why is this research important?

Only eleven per cent of people who use specialist NHS mental health services have a job, but the majority of people with mental health problems want to work. Employment can have serious negative effects on individual’s mental well-being, but the right job can make a substantial positive difference to mental health. There is also strong evidence that being unemployed is bad for people’s mental health, and increases the risk of people dying from suicide.

There is a growing evidence base about the effectiveness of specific ways of helping people affected by mental health problems to gain jobs (see for example our evaluation of the 100 People Project), but these do not operate in isolation and are often supplementing informal support from their friends or family. Thrive London wanted to understand the experiences of Londoners affected by serious mental health problems in looking for and staying in work, and especially what forms of support they had used, and what they had found most useful. There was particular interest in the experiences of people from a BAME background because they are less likely to be in work and a concern that expanding existing services may seek to exacerbate existing inequalities.

What we did

We carried out an online survey in January and February 2017, which had 129 respondents who either lived or worked in Greater London and identified as having a mental health diagnosis that is generally classed as being serious or who reported their mental health had had a serious impact on their day to day life. They were asked about their experiences of mental health problems in the workplace or in seeking work, what forms of support they had used, and how useful they had found them.

We also carried out interviews with eight people who participated in the survey who identified as being from a BAME background to allow us to explore their experiences in greater depth. The participants were self selecting and not representative of Londoners, we therefore sought to use the data to illustrate themes and highlight issues for further research.

 Current status of the project

The project is now finished and the report submitted to the commissioners. You can download a copy here. The findings from the study will help inform the Thrive London strategy when it is published in the summer.