Wesley Mission Report on Mental Illness
13 August 2007 at 4:11 pm
Wesley Mission has called for an end to discrimination in the workplace, more flexible employment opportunities and increased funding for community based care as part of a 21-point reform plan to address the major issues impacting people with mental illness.
The blueprint is contained in a report launched in Sydney recently and is the result of a six month research project into one of Australia’s most pervasive health and social issues.
The report found that the prevalence and impact of mental health in the community was much higher than expected with more than eight in ten Australians (85%) having either experienced mental illness or been exposed to it through family or friends.
The Wesley Report also found that 36% of respondents reported having a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness – much higher than the often quoted figure of 20%.
Rev Keith Garner, the Superintendent of Wesley Mission says mental illness remains a taboo subject for many people although it touches the lives of most Australians.
He says the far reaching effects of mental illness in the community require governments, the community sector, and corporates to provide seamless and connected care and support.
Some of the key recommendations in the Wesley Report include:
-Tax incentives, wage replacement schemes and other financial support for employers to provide more flexible transition into work for people suffering from mental illness
– Flexibility by employers in regard to hours worked, timing of work and workload to take account of the episodic nature of mental illness.
– The release of unspent funds from the Job Network and Work for the Dole to an uncapped support program (PSP) for those with mental illness.
– Flexible and diverse models of support rather than a “one size fits all” model.
– The co-location of mental health support and vocational services to improve clinical and employment outcomes of participants through collaboration.
– The development of government “one stop” shops that combine provision of supported accommodation along with services in health, community, education and employment.
Living with Mental Illness: Attitudes, Experiences and Challenges looked at awareness of and exposure to mental illness in Australia and community attitudes to people with a mental illness involving more than 600 participants.
Rev Garner said Wesley Mission staff had reported that their clients were often subjected to discrimination, social exclusion and negative attitudes.
He says Wesley Mission believes the issue of stigma in the workplace needs urgent attention and recommends amending existing employment legislation to include sufferers of certain mental illnesses.
Wesley Mission supports the Mental Health Council of Australia in recommending the implementation of a National Mental Health Employment Strategy. Wesley also recommends the establishment of a national work experience program for people with a mental illness.