Mental health in the workplace strategy for Norfolk

Health bosses are hoping a new strategy will improve the mental health of employees and their employers in Norfolk.

The Norfolk Mental Health and Wellbeing At Work Strategy was originally developed out of the need to support people coming off Incapacity Benefits and give them assistance in getting back into work.

At a meeting of NHS Norfolk and Waveney yesterday, board members heard how NHS staff had been working at one of Norfolk's Job Centre Plus outlets to give help and guidance on how to cope with mental health issues when going back to work, and it was hoped to roll that out to other job centres.

However, board members agreed that the strategy was also important to helping people who were in work stay healthy and said they hoped to work more closely with private business to offer them straightforward advice on how to address mental health issues in the workplace.

Harper Brown, deputy chief executive, said: 'We prescribe over 210,000 anti-depressants per month –that's a real indicator that there's some stress out there.

'We need to be not just supporting people back to work, but helping them to stay in work.

'We need to engage with employers because we don't want to be just picking up people, rather we want to be helping them to stay well.'

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The cost of prescribing anti-depressants rose from �28.3m to �30m in Norfolk between 2008 and 2010 – a 4.5pc increase.

Not all patients will be receiving the drugs for depression, as anti-depressants can be prescribed for other medical problems, however patients registered for depression make up, on average, seven to 10pc of the GP consortia practice list.

During the same period an average of 32,672 people each month were claiming Employment Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefits in Norfolk, 45pc of which were claiming due to mental health problems.

Stress-related mental health problems in 2010 were estimated to cost the Norfolk economy �31m.

More information is available from the Norfolk Mental Health and Wellbeing At Work Strategy website at

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