Returning to work after a mental health problem can sometimes be daunting but with support, those affected can, wheDelivering Differently teamn ready, make the journey back to work more easily.

In Scotland alone it is estimated that mental health problems cost £10.7 billion, taking into account of social and care costs, economic outputs and human costs. Data for Fife shows a direct correlation between economic and employment deprivation and long-term mental health problems.

That’s why today, in mental health awareness week, Fife has launched the Final Report of Delivering Differently – an 18 month project to improve the outcomes for people with mental health problems in Fife, which has been funded by Scottish Government’s Employability Innovation and Integration Fund.

Fife Voluntary Action is leading the project, working with Fife’s Health and Social Care and Opportunities Fife Partnerships, along with input from a range of partners including local third sector organisations, businesses and, crucially, people who have a lived experience of mental health problems.

Differing Differently has undertaken significant research into what drives high unemployment levels for people with mental health problems and supported a raft of practical actions to address this from: growing aspiration and peer role models; growing specialist employability provision; making services easier to access; and working with employers to create mentally healthy workplaces in Fife.

At today’s Joint Mental Health and Employability Forum, in the Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, the Delivering Differently team presented information on the research findings to over 160 people. The event celebrated the learning from nine pilot fund projects and engaged staff and service users in what needs to happen next.

Gordon Mole, Chief Officer for Business and Employability, Fife Council said, “We’re exceptionally pleased with the results that Delivering Differently have been able to deliver in a short space of time. The project has engaged with a wide range of agencies, providers and businesses and is an excellent example of partnership working. Practical help for companies, such as the Just: Ask Listen Talk toolkit, helping managers to support their workforce with mental health problems, demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach.”

Michael Kellet, Director of Fife’s Health and Social Care Partnership added, “Improving the mental health and wellbeing for the people of Fife is a key priority for the Partnership. Delivering Differently has made great progress in understanding and addressing the issues relating to mental ill health and employment. The involvement of people with lived experience has been invaluable and has been key to the success of the project.”

Pegs Bailey, Strategic Coordinator for Delivering Differently said – ‘It has been an honour to work with so many amazing people on this project. Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time. If it happened to me I know I would want to be supported to get back on my feet, and to know that work would be a possibility in my future again’.

The Delivering Differently team has received funding from See Me to continue their work improving outcomes and tackling stigma associated with mental health. The funds will support the recruitment and coordination of a team of volunteers who have had experience of mental health issues.