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Introducing Real Purpose: A Beacon of Hope for Mental Health and Employment

Updated: Apr 3

We proudly announce the launch of Real Purpose, a new local social enterprise committed to supporting residents at risk of or already experiencing mental health difficulties to gain skills, voluntary work, or paid employment to improve their mental health.

Funded by Leicestershire County Council, Real Purpose’s local Employment & Skills Programme aims to provide crucial support to County residents at risk of mental ill health or who are relying on primary care services (GP) for mental health support. 

The primary goal is to help individuals not only secure and sustain employment but also access voluntary work and learning opportunities, building a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

Real Purpose: Bridging the Gap between Mental Health and Employment

In an era where mental health awareness is on the rise, we want Real Purpose to stand as a beacon of hope, recognising the unique challenges faced by individuals navigating mental health difficulties. Through a holistic approach, we want the social enterprise to collaborate with local services to identify and support those who are ready to reintegrate into the workforce or explore learning and voluntary opportunities.

Peter, with over a decade of local experience in managing mental health employment support services, emphasises the significance of a tailored and strategic approach. His insight into the successful placement of local individuals into over 1000 paid jobs highlights the importance of not just disclosing one's mental health but doing so thoughtfully and deliberately.

So, to Disclose or Not to Disclose?

At Real Purpose, we not only address the practical aspects of employment support, but we also dive into a critical question: should individuals disclose their lived experience of mental ill health to prospective employers? 

The age-old dilemma persists, with job seekers often grappling with the decision to share this personal aspect of their lives during the application process.

Peter sheds light on the matter and according to him, it's not a matter of whether to disclose but rather how and when to do so. Real Purpose encourages open conversations about mental health in the workplace and aims to de-stigmatise these discussions. Peter asserts that disclosing mental health experiences can be a powerful tool when used judiciously.

Key Insights from Peter's Experience

Drawing from Peter's experience, we at Real Purpose advocate for a nuanced approach to disclosure:

1. Choose your Timing: Choosing the right moment to disclose is crucial. It should ideally happen after a rapport has been established with the employer and the candidate has already ‘sold’ their skills and experience gained in work or elsewhere, plus their aptitude for the job, and only then when the individual feels comfortable sharing their journey.

2. Educating Employers: Real Purpose plans to engage with local businesses to create understanding and a more inclusive environment. By educating employers about mental health, we aim to reduce stigma and misinformation and increase acceptance.

3. Emphasising Strengths and Resilience: Disclosures can be accompanied by a focus on strengths and resilience gained through overcoming challenges. Real Purpose believes that framing the conversation positively can alter perceptions.

Real Purpose: A Catalyst for Change

We want to make the case that Real Purpose isn't just about securing jobs; it's about creating a community that understands and supports mental health. By bridging the gap between mental health difficulties and employment, we aspire to be a catalyst for positive change in Leicestershire.

As we embark on this journey, let us not only champion the cause of mental health but also challenge the stereotypes surrounding disclosure. Real Purpose invites the local community to join hands in building a future where everyone can find their purpose, irrespective of their mental health journey.

We say, let's aim to redefine the narrative around mental health and employment. Real Purpose hopes to be a movement towards a more inclusive and compassionate society.

So, what do you think about mental health and employment and if you were in this position, would you disclose to a potential employer?

We don’t think you should disclose to an employer because you feel you have to, because quite frankly it is largely your choice; however, be aware of an occupational health assessment, where you may find you have to explain your health history, so as not to later be accused of dishonestly obtaining the job.

But if the majority of the individuals using local services, which Peter managed over the last 13 years, did disclose and still got the job then it is not only possible to disclose and still get employment, but it can be helpful to do so. 

So, you must be asking why tell them? Are there any benefits to doing so? 

Well, the answer is a resounding yes!

Under the UK’s Equality Act (2010) an employer will act illegally if they discriminate against an individual based on their disability (and most mental health conditions fall into the ‘disability’ category) so that’s a starter. 

Plus the employer, when they offer you the job should address reasonable adjustments (also under the Equality Act) or you can ask for these so you can carry out the role to the best of your ability. 

And not only that, if there is a cost associated with providing any reasonable adjustments then there is the DWP’s government-funded Access to Work scheme which can in most cases provide most of the funding to the employer.

Any other reasons to disclose?

Yes, and for a very good reason - if you are recognised as a disabled employee and you have to take any sick leave, because of your underlying mental health issues, which quite often these days is managed by the employer using an attendance policy with links to their disciplinary processes, you can find yourself being treated with more discretion, as you have a disability.

We hope you have found this useful and please leave your comments below. We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Watch this space for our next article…

To find out more about Real Purpose or to make a referral (including self-referrals) please head to or give us a call on our freephone: 0800 688 9938 

Written by: Peter Smith and Jess Talbott , founders and co-directors of Real Purpose.

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