Association of Mental Health Providers

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Research: Not-for-profit enterprise & workforces with mental ill-health

For the past three years the Association has been a national partner to Enterprise Development Programme (EDP), funded by Access – the foundation for social investment. This program supports charities and social enterprises based in England looking to identify, test, implement or scale trading models to deliver their missions and help them become more sustainable.

As part of this programme of work, the Association is keen to further understand the potential of a specific subset of trading and enterprise; businesses being carried out by not-for-profits where the workforce is made up in whole or in part of people who are experiencing difficulties with their mental health. It is well documented that access to meaningful  work and employment can be an important contributor to mental health and wellbeing for many. We wanted to explore this relationship further particularly when such opportunities are hosted in organisations where providing support for people with mental ill-health is part of their mission.

This research has further affirmed how participating in meaningful work can improve people’s mental health, but in parallel it has highlighted there is no ‘one size fits all’ in terms of an approach to involving those with mental ill health in non-profit business. And this is encouragingly recognised by Providers involved in this research and is present in their varied methods of supporting people, whereby they all take account of both support needs but also strengths or assets they can bring to the enterprise.

The research also brings to the table some important initial findings around strategy and operations for such businesses, particularly in terms of funding models and the common requirement for grant subsidy. And related to this, there is important insight into decision making on impact measurement, pay and the benefits system.

The Association appointed the Centre for Charity Effectiveness (CCE), part of Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) to undertake this research. We would like to thank Steph Harland and Steve Billot for all their hard work bringing this research together, giving us greater insight to impact of such initiatives and also practicalities of making them a success.

The in-depth research paper will be followed up by a series of blog posts, focusing in on certain aspects of the findings.