In England, there exists a broad spectrum of organizations that provide employment support to people with mental health problems.
Protected workshops instituted by mental health trusts and social care services have a high level of staff but they do not provide professional activities, they are far fewer opportunities for career advancement and the employees in these institutions obtain lower wages in comparison to the national standard of minimum wages (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, June 2004).
Integration and inclusion differ to a great extent. Integration requires individuals to change themselves to such an extent as will enable them to be accepted by the system. This in direct contrast to the process of inclusion in which the system modifies itself to the required extent in order to accommodate individuals (Shakespeare, 1997. Pp 8 – 11).
Employment has a very significant effect on social inclusion. This is especially true in the context of individuals with grave mental impairment.
With reference to the mentally ill, employment is to be construed as an issue connected with entitlement and citizenship rather than a mode of treatment. It is the duty of medical practitioners and the community to ensure that a wide array of employment opportunities are made available to the mentally ill so as to engender social inclusion (Cabinet Office, 1998).
Social exclusion is related to the inequalities inherent in society. It might be either radicalized or gendered. The term social exclusion connotes a multifaceted form of disability in society.
This definition has been considered to be incomplete by sociologists and researchers as it has been considered to be vague and unclear in summing up the various forms of social exclusion. However, the social exclusion unit endeavoured to define the problem in terms of individuals who suffer due to lack of employment, inadequate skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown (Cabinet Office, 1998).
The House of Lords effected far reaching changes to the Mental Health Bill, which completed its passage through the Upper House of Parliament in March 2007.
The gist of these amendments were that people could not be considered to be mentally ill, as clarified at page 2, lines 25 and 26, solely on the basis of their being abusers of alcohol or drugs; due to their sexual identity or orientation; the apprehension or fact that they might commit unlawful or disorderly acts and their beliefs in respect of culture, religion and politics. This constituted a major blow to the draconian legislation that the Labour Government was attempting to push through with indecent haste (Lords Hansard, 2007).
These amendments, which had been made after a great deal of discussion and introspection by the House of Lords was greeted with great approbation in various quarters and especially by the Mental Health Alliance.
This alliance, which comprises of the RCN and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, declared that these changes to the Mental Health Bill would ensure that this act would not apply to individuals, without mental health problems, in the absence of their consent. These amendments preclude the danger of a person being detained and treated for mental illness, despite being innocent of any crime what so ever (McMillan, Campaigners welcome exclusions to mental health Bill at House of Lords, March 2007).
The Health Minister, Rosie Winterton, was deeply dissatisfied with the amendments made by their Lordships. She justified her opposition to their decision by stating that if these amendments were overturned, then treatment could be given to those who required it in order to help them as well as society.
Due to the amendments made by the House of Lords, a patient would have to be subjected to a treatability test and this could result in persons with grave personality disorders avoiding or being denied treatment. Moreover, due to the obstacles placed in the way of supervised community treatment, the number of people having to undergo treatment in a hospital would increase.
This would also bring about an increase in the duration of their treatment at the hospital. Further, due to these amendments, if it cannot be established that a patient is suffering from impaired judgment then such a patient has to be allowed to go scot free, irrespective of the need for treatment or the risk such a patient poses to society (Latest News: Health Minister concerned over Lords amendments to Mental Health Bill, 2007).
She was also very much seized with the matter of providing Mental Health Care services to blacks and ethnic minorities. In this regard she stated that twenty percent of the mentally ill who were treated in hospitals belonged to this segment of society.
Moreover, she stated that the Labour Government, in order to improve health services, had recruited around five hundred community development workers. She was sanguine that this would make available much better medical services to the mentally afflicted members of the black and ethnic minority communities (McMillan, Action plan to promote better understanding of BME patients, March 2007).
The provision of employment to the mentally impaired serves to greatly enhance their standard of living, well being of the mind and social inclusion. In the United Kingdom, the number of mentally afflicted people who are employed is very less. Most of the surveys, personal interviews and case studies have made it very clear that they are keenly interested in being employed (Evans & Repper, Employment, social inclusion and mental health, 2000).