Employment services for prisoners must include mental health support

06 March 2012

“The Government’s announcement that people leaving prison and claiming Jobseekers Allowance will be referred straight away to the Work Programme to help them into employment is a welcome step but must be combined with effective support for prison leavers’ mental health and wellbeing,” Centre  for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said today.  

“Nine out of ten prisoners have a mental health condition. It is vital that people leaving prison are assessed accurately under the Work Capability Assessment and given the right level of support from the Work Programme based on their personal needs.  

“Evidence suggests that employment support for prisoners works best if it starts before they leave prison and continues after release. Many prisoners with mental health problems are excluded from existing employment schemes, making them even more disadvantaged. We should not wait until people leave prison to offer them employment support, nor exclude those with mental health problems from effective schemes.  

“Work Programme prime providers have now signed up to a joint pledge on mental health and wellbeing to ensure they offer people with mental health conditions the best possible support to gain and sustain paid work. This should include people leaving prison and should link health and employment support so that they are offered together.”

 

Beyond the Gate (Briefing 42)

Beyond the gate cover image It is possible to support people with mental health problems and offending histories into mainstream employment, from whichever part of the criminal justice system they are in.

Beyond the Gate uses real examples from employers, prisons and probation services across England to sets out five elements of effective practice in securing employment for offenders.

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