"Integrated approach to tackling mental ill health amongst the unemployed is needed" - Ní Riada
Giving the opening address at a conference on employment and mental health, Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called for an integrated approach from state agencies to tackling low employment rates amongst those experiencing mental ill-health.
The conference was organised by Mental Health Europe, an umbrella organisation representing NGOs from across the continent.
Liadh Ní Riada said,
"Research from the OECD shows that people suffering from mental ill-health are more likely to have difficulty in securing stable employment, and studies have shown that one in four people receiving a social welfare payment will experience a mental health difficulty during the period of their claim.
"A lack of integration between mental health services and social protection services means that people with moderate to serious mental health difficulties are put at a distinct advantage in terms of both recovery and in accessing work.
"Decent employment can bring stability and dignity to those experiencing mental ill-health, however ongoing social stigma surrounding mental health and an undercurrent of discrimination can act as a huge barrier.
"A common theme coming from this conference is that across Europe austerity policies, and cuts to front line services, are having a debilitating and disproportionate effect on unemployed people with mental health difficulties.
"Early intervention and integration of social protection and health care services are key steps in remedying this situation. I spoke with colleagues in Mental Health Ireland and I am pleased to hear that they are providing training to key staff in the Department of Social Protection.
"What we need is more of this, and a strong commitment from Government to stop treating mental health like the poor cousin of the health care system."