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Report calls for flexible sick pay for mental health patients

Friday 2nd November 2018
Mental health patients could be better supported if sick pay was made more flexible, a new report has said.
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People suffering mental health issues should be protected with 'flexible' sick pay arrangements for the time they take off work, a new report has recommended. 

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute produced a study into the financial impact of conditions such as stress and depression, noting that 2.3 million Britons are limited in the work they can do by their symptoms.

Furthermore, it suggested mental health symptoms can be made worse by people feeling they have to keep working out of financial necessity.

It found that 47 per cent of those taking time off work had to borrow to make ends meet, often using high-cost 'payday' loans. 42 per cent went without essentials, such as food and domestic energy, 35 per cent fell into arrears with their bills and 16 per cent missed a mortgage payment.

The conclusion of the report is that for those with mental health issues, statutory sick pay is not enough to help meet their needs. 

As well as making this more flexible, it should also be available to those it is currently denied to, the report argues, such as people on zero-hour contracts. It should be set up to enable people to make a phased return to work. 

The report also called for increased income and support allowance and for the government to do more to encourage saving to help people cope with times of crisis. 

Director of the institute Helen Undy said: "For thousands of people in the UK, sick days are a luxury they just can't afford. Many with mental health problems are finding themselves too ill to work and too broke not to - choosing between causing harm to their mental health by working, or harm to their finances by taking time to recover.

"It's a vicious cycle, ultimately forcing many out of the workplace entirely."

The problem is not a new one. In 2010 a report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that half of the adults in problem debt in the UK also had mental health issues.

Written by Angela Newbury

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