The North East is to benefit from a share of £12m funding to help more people with mental health problems back into work.

The North East Combined Authority (NECA) is one of four pilot areas which will use government funding to test whether better co-ordination of mental health and employment services could help thousands of people find and stay in employment as well as improve their mental health.

The relationship between mental health, mental illness and work is well established. Those in work report better mental health and wellbeing than those not in work, while mental health difficulties can make obtaining and retaining employment difficult.

in the North East over 10,000 people claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and have a mental health condition but are required to actively seek work.

And nationally mental ill-health is estimated to cost taxpayers and businesses £105bn a year in health and police services, welfare benefits and sickness absence.

Welcoming the announcement, Cllr Grant Davey, the Employability and Inclusion lead for the Combined Authority, said: “We are delighted that the North East has been chosen as one of the trailblazer areas.

“We know that employment is good for mental health while long term unemployment worsens mental health disorders, especially depression and anxiety.

“However, programmes haven’t always been successful enough in supporting people with mental health conditions into work, while those who do find employment often need more help to stay in work.

“This funding will help us develop better links between health and employment services so that more people in the region get the support they need.”

Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins added: “Mental health is a big problem but we can do something about it. As the successful Troubled Families programme has shown, by bringing different services together in a way that works for the people who need them, we can get better results for individuals and save money for the taxpayer too.”