To examine the vocational status of people with longer-term mental health problems in the inner London Borough of Wandsworth. Data collected over 10 years on 1 April each year as part of an annual census of adults with longer-term mental health problems using community mental health and rehabilitation teams were analysed to examine the vocational status of these groups.
Within the borough unemployment rates among people with longer-term mental health problems increased steadily during the 1990s, despite a decreasing rate of general unemployment for the majority of that period. Unemployment among people with long-term mental health problems increased from 80% in 1990 to 92% in 1999, and the unemployment rates among those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia increased from 88% in 1990 to 96% in 1999.
Work and employment is important in health as well as social functioning. Greater attention to vocational issues in clinical teams is required: the challenge for mental health services is to make employment interventions of demonstrated effectiveness available to all who need them.
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