Companies must help workers depressed by divorce, Iain Duncan Smith says
Posted by: Sue Atkins
I totally agree with pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith when he says businesses must be better at identifying people struggling with ‘family break up’ so they do not end up leaving work.
Companies should intervene and help employees going through marital break ups to prevent them ‘crashing out’ of work and ending up on benefits, Iain Duncan Smith has said.
The Pensions Secretary said many people are struggling with depression and anxiety at work because of a “family break up” or a “hiatus” at home.
He said that the Government was going to “push” companies into becoming better at identifying these problems and offering help before they get worse to help keep people in work.
The Department of Work and Pensions is currently expanding a pilot scheme to help people on benefits with mental health problems get treatment earlier, as it tries to increase the numbers in work and reduce the benefits bill.
However Mr Duncan Smith said that Government and companies need to be better at looking after the mental health of people still in work to keep them off benefits in the future.
Speaking to people at an early stage when they exhibit early symptoms of depression will stop “people crashing out of work”, he said.
He told the Work and Pensions Select Committee: “If you go to other countries like Germany and others they have a much more proactive process in trying to engage the worker at that point really, to find out what the problem is.
“Quite often they are really quite minor problems, they may be family problems, maybe there is family break up going on, or a hiatus or something that actually you can then deal with.
“They can be sent to some kind of help and support whether it is treatment if they are suffering some kind of mental health condition early on, stablilising them and keeping them in that job.
“So that is what we are now trying to focus our attention on is to get to people much earlier where they are work where they start to show indications of difficulty and start to get that treatment.”
“We would like to push companies even further to do more and we would like to support them to a greater degree”, he added.
Mr Duncan Smith said that around 60 per cent of all those with mental health conditions who leave work are suffering from anxiety or depression and the Government needs to “do much more proactively help people get treatment.”
He said: “My general view is that we can do a lot more to help people much earlier on, and so if you remember we started a programme, about helping people who were in work at the time and health and work programme, because we have never done anything like before
“What happens in private sector companies, particularly, is people suffer a problem, then their work suffers, they cease coming into work regularly, what happens is they go into their statutory sick pay and at the end of it the business sort of says “bye bye.”
Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, the negative effects of family breakdown health and productive work “is not always appreciated as much as it should be. Likewise the positive benefits to health and productivity of a stable and intact family life.”
“Iain Duncan Smith is undoubtedly correct in recognising that employers are often among the first people to discern the tell-tale signs of failing mental and emotional health and can play a valuable role in encouraging colleagues under strain to seek medical help.
“He describes this as more proactive approach, but it is still a reaction to a problem that has already begun to manifest itself. As a society we need to be proactive at an earlier stage still.”
Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, the mental health charity, said: “We welcome proposals to provide more support to people experiencing mental health problems in work, but we also need employers to provide greater tailored and personalised support to all staff, whether they have a diagnosis or not.”
Read the full article here in The Daily Telegraph