Rose Aghdami, Rehabilitation UK
Aghdami said that the most overlooked disabilities are those suffering mental health problems.
She said: "If we think about people who go on to draw incapacity benefit because of problems at work, nearly 40% of those entering into claiming incapacity benefits present with mental health problems as their main disability. Furthermore, an additional 10% present with mental health problems as secondary problems."
She said that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence had recommended Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is a short-term, structured, evidence-based therapy, as the treatment of choice for these conditions. "It is well known that this works for anxiety and depression for most people. However, because of a lack of resource, many of these people go untreated."
"If these problems were treated, a good bulk of those people would be able to return to the workplace, join the workforce, engage in the country's economy and be functioning members of society. However, this does not happen at the moment."
According to Aghdami, there are not enough NHS facilities at the moment to cope with the potential need for mental health intervention and treatment, so there is more "collaboration and joint working together with private providers". She added that proper screening for those "who are going to have a poor prognosis, whatever the intervention, and will not get better for various reasons, can save an enormous amount of this scarce resource right at the beginning. We will have to be able to predict who will benefit from CBT."
"At Rehabilitation UK, we have been working on a project to do exactly that.
We have now a validated desktop assessment tool, about which I will not go into great detail now. That sort of screening is going to be crucial to guide treatment pathways.
"It is not a diagnostic tool, as that would be inappropriate. However, it is designed to guide treatment pathways so that people can receive what they need at the appropriate time as soon as possible, and thereby avoid a lot of wasted resource," she said.