‘Work has been therapy for my mental health’

Jim Reed reports for the BBC:

People living with a severe mental illness are very likely to be out of work – the employment rate for the group is thought to be as low as 7%. A pioneering approach is meant to change that but the NHS rollout has been slower than planned, at least in part because of Covid.

Colin Stubbings, 53, from Nottingham, says a mix of severe mental health problems, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, left him unable to leave his house.

“I couldn’t even walk into a supermarket, within a few seconds it was like a barrier had come down,” he said. “I felt like I had lost a part of myself, like I didn’t know who I was or where I fitted in society.”

Like many others, he had to give up any kind of paid work. He says he was left at home “staring at four walls, seeing blackness in my head the whole time”.

An estimated 280,000 people in the UK are living with a severe mental illness, defined as a psychological problem so debilitating that it severely impairs their everyday activities. That can include severe depression as well as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Many in that category might not feel ready for paid employment. Others though would like to gradually return to the workplace. Surveys from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) suggest more than half would take a job if they were offered one …”

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