Exploring the relationships between employment status, social welfare and benefit receipt among people affected by mental health disorders

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Psychological Medicine


In the UK around 1.18 million people access secondary mental health care services, of which 136,000 have a serious mental health condition such as psychosis or bipolar disorder. These mental health disorders are some of the most commonly reported working-age disabilities and often-cited reason for claiming unemployment and sickness-related benefits. Substantial changes have been made in the past decade to the benefit system, including the introduction of "universal credit" benefit to replace several other benefits. Concerns lie around the impact of these changes on particularly vulnerable claimants including those with serious mental health disorders, however there is a lack of evidence around the profiles of these benefit claimants and types of interventions and support programs that are most and least helpful for helping this group gain and remain in work.

This project aims to explore the complex relationships between employment status, social welfare and benefit receipt among those with mental health disorders using linked data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Work and Health Unit, and NHS mental health medical records from secondary care services in South London and Maudsley (SLAM).

It will look at how benefit changes have impacted the amount of and time spent on benefits and the time taken to return to work, as well as which mental health interventions and support provided by both SLaM and DWP are available and improve upon return to work, and how this varies by factors such as age, ethnicity and diagnosis.

Interviews will also be conducted to provide in depth data around the barriers and facilitators people with serious mental health disorders experience in returning to work or finding suitable alternatives, and whether they feel adequately supported.

The findings from this project will fill the knowledge gap and provide practical recommendations in order to improve upon policies relating to benefit receipt and support and provision for people with mental health disorders gaining/returning to work.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2453373 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2020 31/12/2023 Ava Phillips