The government has been urged to get tough with employers that discriminate against people with mental health problems.
The Mental Health Foundation said legislation should be properly enforced to ensure that people with mental health problems were protected from workplace discrimination.
Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the charity, said a general lack of understanding about mental health left employers ignorant and prejudiced.
“It is no good just trying to change attitudes as this has been proven not to work. We need to change [employers’] behaviour. We need the government to enforce current strategies and legislation to make employers behave differently,” he said.
The latest Labour Market Outlook survey of 1,000 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development revealed that one in five would not consider hiring an incapacity claimant with a history of mental health problems. But the survey did show that, with extra support, employers were willing to help people with mental health problems back into work.
McCulloch urged the government to increase funding for supported employment schemes that help people back to work. These would involve experts preparing and advising individuals, and providing ongoing support to employers.
He said there was a strong economic case for doing this properly as many people were on long-term sick leave with mental health problems and needed help in returning to work.
The Mental Health Foundation will publish a report on the issue later this month.