It’s a worrying fact for employers that every year around 20% of working age adults experience a mental health condition, writes Sir Nigel Knowles, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.
Fifteen million days of work a year are lost due to stress, anxiety and depression. Bad backs, shoulders and necks have similar impacts, and one-third of people with common physical health problems also experience mental health issues.
It’s a frustration both for businesses losing output, and for the individuals whose careers and quality of life are badly affected.
Now a revolutionary type of help – one of only two such projects in the UK – is being tested in the Sheffield City Region in a bid to tackle the problem. ‘Working Win’ creates a new service which takes a personalised and intensive approach to support, co-ordinating the resources and knowledge of the employers and the health, employment and benefits agencies.
It’s something which, with our new Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis on board, we can get off to a really strong start.
I’m delighted to see this imaginative approach and I am convinced it can show us how the right support in the right place at the right time could transform many people’s lives. It’s tragic to see how health problems can stop people working when with a joined-up approach, and suitable support, they could enjoy fulfilling employment.
It’s also something that affects our economy. For local businesses, it causes disruptions, costs time, output and ultimately profits, and wastes the talents of an a skilled and dedicated workforce.
We know this cannot go on and that it’s in everyone’s interests to make a step change. And we also know that employers and individuals need more and better support to enable them to maximise their potential.
The Working Win trial has been launched by the City Region together with NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions. It will test out how effective a new type of holistic support is for people who could stay in work, or get a job, if they just had the right sort of support for physical or mental problems.
It includes working with a health care team, help finding a job, and support once in employment. It also provides help such as talking to employers about their needs in the workplace, for those in work but struggling to manage their health condition.
Any adult registered with a GP in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw can take part in the Working Win trial, which is randomised in order to assess the impact of the new service. Participants are randomly placed in two research groups: one will receive the new service and the other will be given information about existing services in their area.
It starts with an individual having a chat with a GP who will help arrange a meeting with the team running the trial. Then the individual can decide if they want to take part – Working Win is completely voluntary. (Other ways of registering to take part are detailed on www.workingwin.com.)
Once signed up, a job specialist works closely with the participant, employers and a health team to create a plan, and meets them regularly to review progress. This support runs for 12 months and does not affect benefits.
Our new Working Win web resource also aims to make it easier to discover all the employment and skills support available from different providers across the Sheffield City Region. Providers of employment and skills support in any of the nine SCR local authorities who would like to work with us should get in touch by email through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working Win will also help businesses in Sheffield City Region hire the right people for their jobs, and to keep their staff fit and healthy at work.
This region has 68,000 businesses of all sizes. Our ambition is to see them all grow and thrive, creating a prosperous economy for all sectors of society.
Some employ hundreds, some employ just a handful. But every member of staff is a unique and valuable asset to that business – with the vision of the Working Win programme I believe we can help many workers and their employers, or their potential employers, overcome health hurdles, whether mental or physical, and boost their confidence and self respect.
The Working Win programme is a major way forward for our hopes and ambitions.