SCIE Research briefing 38: Mental health, employment and the social care workforce

By Linda Seymour, Pete Fleischmann, Paul D S Ross, Bob Grove and Angela Sweeney

Published: October 2011

This briefing summarises evidence on what prevents people with mental health problems from working or retaining work in social care and what can be done to enable them to work. It provides a summary of a range of policy and programmes designed to enable people with mental health problems to gain, retain and regain work, with specific focus on employment in social care.

This briefing asks:

Key messages

  • Mental health problems are widespread in the working-age population.
  • Mental health stigma and discrimination remain common in the workplace.
  • Employers are largely unaware of the levels of mental health need among employees, line managers lack confidence in supporting people with mental health problems and co-workers have mixed views about mental health.
  • Policy on mental health and employment does not provide a coherent framework to support the recruitment and retention of people with mental health problems.
  • People with mental health problems do not have to be completely recovered to remain in or return to work.
  • Good practice means collaboration between professionals, practitioners and employees.
  • There is sufficient evidence to inform the development of services and interventions so that people with mental health problems can find and keep work in social care.

About the development of this product

Scoping and searching

A scope of the broad mental health and employment literature was carried out between September and November 2010. Further searching took place between November and December 2010.

Stakeholder involvement

A range of experts were consulted, including service users, practitioners and national organisations. The topic experts, Angela Sweeney and Pete Fleischmann identify as mental health survivors.

Peer review and testing

The final research briefing was peer reviewed by three external subject experts, including two mental health service users.


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following download you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • Research briefing 38: Mental health, employment and the social care workforce