Welfare Reforms: People Suffering Mental Health are the Hardest Hit

1200px-Cmglee_Cambridge_Jobcentre_Plus

There as been a delay in recent weeks in publishing many of my posts here on this blog due to health and other problems and I am now in the process of trying to catch up. Therefore this and other articles yet to be published which were written prior to Christmas may seem like old news, however in many cases the problems discussed have merely slipped into the back ground as others have taken their place. I have decided to publish many of these articles as more often than not it is helpful to remind people of some of the great injustices in our country and indeed worldwide.

Most certainly the subject of this post has been mentioned before but it can’t hurt to bring up this issue again, an issue that has not been resolved though the attention may have diminished.

“Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping. The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed,
Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church

“We’re very concerned about the number of people having their benefits stopped. This causes not just financial problems but added emotional distress. It’s unjustifiable that people with mental health problems are being sanctioned disproportionately compared to those who have another health problem.

“Stopping benefits does not help people with mental health problems back into work. In fact, it often results in people becoming more anxious and unwell and this makes a return to work less likely. Sanctions are based on a false assumption that individuals lack motivation and willingness to work, but it’s the impact of their illness and the environment in which they are expected to work which actually present the toughest challenges. That’s why they should only be used as a last resort, when someone simply refuses to engage.”
Paul Farmer, CEO of mental health charity Mind

Mental health sufferers are facing a nightmare of existence as a consequence not only of the devastating affect of their conditions but as a result of welfare reforms which are targeting them in recent months, destroying already difficult lives. The government targets mental health sufferers as they are among the most vulnerable in our society.

Why mentally ill people are an easy target for the Tories

“Mind has emphasised how Iain Duncan Smith’s supposed attack on “scroungers” has turned into an attack on the mentally ill. His staff were sanctioning and removing their benefits at a rate of 100 a day.

The prejudice of Conservative officialdom is that they are lazy rather than sick. They punish them and then they fail them. Almost 150,000 people with mental health problems have been placed on the work programme – only 5% have been helped into work.

“…I believe government and the NHS bureaucracy targets the mentally ill because people suffering – if I may use the word – from autism or schizophrenia, and the depressed and the mentally broken, rarely vote.”

Continue reading the following pre-election article:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/12/mentally-ill-people-easy-tory-target

Also the government attacks mentally ill people simply because they are less able to fight back as a result of their condition which unlike the physically disabled effects their thinking processes. Suffering from the delusions of schizophrenia or bipolar or the incapacitating fear and stress of an anxiety disorder such as OCD or agoraphobia or the misery of depression it is not easy or sometimes not even possible to possess the wherewithal to challenge the social injustice of welfare reforms or the lack of treatment and services. Many people with mental health issues or autism may not be able to even pick up the phone and talk to someone, or think coherently to write or otherwise communicate. A person with severe depression may not even leave his or her bed let alone challenge such complex social injustices ignored by a good majority of the population.  This does not mean to say that the physically ill have an easier time though unless additionally afflicted with a mental health condition, or later become so afflicted as a result of welfare reforms, may be more able to get the help they need fighting welfare cuts and sanctions, including more sympathy which is often lacking towards the mentally ill.

I have personal knowledge of someone who has AS Asperger Syndrome anxiety and depression whose mental health has significantly deteriorated as result of Government welfare reforms and the Work Capability Assessment’s (WCA) requirements and frequent assessments. Simply attending the interview is an ordeal of anxiety and stress. Months ahead of his scheduled Maximus interview he is becoming increasingly more anxious and his already existing depression is deteriorating further. His Psychologist and GP says he is not well enough to work, but this gives him no comfort, no sense of security because he knows that their opinions may not be taken into account. The DWP requirements are seriously damaging this person’s health with the consequence that he increasing less and less fit to work.

For people with mental health problems the anxiety and depression made worse by such ordeals often remains long after the ordeal is over which means their overall condition may deteriorate and escalate. Mentally ill people are fragile and any added stress is a serious detriment to their health.With regard to sanctions there can be few things worse than not knowing where your next meal is coming from or whether or not you can pay your rent and as a consequence be out on the streets homeless and destitute. This is so for everyone but even more so for people who as a result of their mental health are less able to cope with the consequences or know what to do or where to turn. Often having few if any friends or supportive family members they can become quickly isolated.

Certainly people with mental health conditions wish to work but for many of them to do so they need enormous support which is not forthcoming. The work place is not an easy environment these days even for those not afflicted with mental health conditions, it is an unforgiving, uncompromising, demanding and exploitative environment and not conducive for those who suffer in this way. Certainly exploitative work fare and apprenticeship schemes are a detriment to anyone’s sense of well-being , there is nothing more depressing than to be exploited and have no say in the matter, to work for next to nothing and not be able to do anything about it must be a serious detriment not only financially but emotionally for anyone but even more so for those with a mental illness. Mental illness is a profound disability, it is a serious medical condition, though it is rarely refered to as such, there is little understanding, respect and support in society in general for mental illness even less so in the work place.

Here is how government polices are destroying the lives of those with mental health problems.

Benefit Sanctions:

It is a shocking fact that people with mental health conditions are much more likely to be sanctioned than someone with a physical illness or disability. Sixty two percent of people who are sanctioned have a mental illness.

How benefit sanctions punish people with mental health problems the hardest

“It’s hard enough dealing with a mental health issue – but it’s made much worse if you’re not able to work.

David (not his real name) suffers from schizophrenia and receives two types of income support to help him live while he deals with his illness. He was sanctioned twice in 2013 for not attending work focussed interviews and appointments due to his deteriorating health.

He was even sanctioned while he was very ill in hospital, and forced to rely on his family for food.”

Continue reading:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/how-benefit-sanctions-punish-people-5005786

‘My mental health deteriorated rapidly’: the real impact of benefit sanctions

Edited extracts of written evidence to a recent House of Commons work and pensions select committee on the impact of benefit sanctions”

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/27/mental-health-benefit-sanctions-work-and-pensions-select-committee

‘Benefit sanctions harmed my health’

‘Benefit sanctions harmed my health’

The inflexibility of the benefit sanctions system is leading to people having their support taken away unfairly, according to Labour MP Rebecca Long Bailey. Opponents claim it can be unfair and penalise the most vulnerable in society. Hayley Dunn and Lee Curry share their experiences.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p031ss4x

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34158176

Read how the government have driven people to suicide

New data: More than 100 people per day with mental health problems are having their benefits sanctioned

http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/new-data-more-than-100-people-per-day-with-mental-health-problems-are-having-their-benefits-sanctioned

Even if the claimant has not previously suffered with a mental health condition the stress as a result of the requirements of ESA as a member of the work activity group have brought about mental health issues in people that previously did not have them such as Catherine, a sufferer of ME who now suffers with severe anxiety as a result of unfair expectations by the job centre and sanctions. Listen to her story here:

Sanctioned: Catherine’s Story

List of people who have died after being declared fit to work updated October 2014

Many of the people included in the following list where mentally ill or became mentally ill as a result of the government’s vicious reforms including:

Mark Wood. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.
Mark Wood: ‘Sweet and gentle’ 44-year-old man with mental health problems ‘starved to death after benefits cut’

Paul Reekie, 48, the Leith based Poet and Author. Suffered from severe depression. Committed suicide after DWP stopped his benefits due to an Atos ‘fit for work’ decision.
http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/books/this-lost-genius-the-legacy-of-the-late-scottish-poet-paul-reekie-1-1667694

Leanne Chambers, 30. Suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.
http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/body-found-river-wear-leanne-1418087

Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/heartbroken-dad-blames-benefits-axemen-2292176

David Barr, 28. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal
http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/norwich_man_killed_himself_over_back_to_work_fears_1_1358116

See the complete list which includes people with other conditions who have of course been treated shamefully by this vile government.
http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2014/10/21/uk-welfare-reform-deaths-updated-list-october-21st-2014/

The shocking fact is despite all the government rhetoric that work is good for mental health generally speaking the opposite is true. The sad thing is that a person with a mental health condition can rarely get a job or cope with holding a job for very long.

Sanctions do not help people into work in fact the opposite is true, yet the government refuse to look into this.

Minister Refuses To Examine Impact Of Benefit Sanctions On Mental Health

DWP Minister, Priti Patel, refused to examine the devastating impact of benefit sanctions on people with mental health conditions.
http://www.welfareweekly.com/minister-refuses-to-examine-impact-of-benefit-sanctions-on-mental-health/

In addition to benefit sanctions and other punitive reforms mental health services are being cut.

Cuts to UK mental health services are destroying young lives and families

£80m has been cut from the NHS mental health budget for children and adolescents in the past four years, including £35m in the last year alone
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/27/uk-child-mental-health-services-destroying-lives-families

Mental health service budgets ‘cut by 8%’

Paul Farmer, chief executive of of the mental health charity Mind, said: “The treatment gap for mental health is huge – 75% of people with mental health problems get no help at all.

“Meanwhile, many more are being turned away from services when they need them the most, left to cope alone with self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-31970871

‘Damning’ research on WCA deaths is ‘timely’ reminder of government’s shame
http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/damning-research-on-wca-deaths-is-timely-reminder-of-governments-shame/

The latest news concerning benefits

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/08/fit-for-work-tests-double-cost-dwp-disability-cuts

Related Links

Equality 4 Mental Health

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ruby-wax/equality-4-mental-health_b_8459466.html

David*, a father of two from Stroud, Gloucestershire, has watched his teenage son struggle with anxiety and increasing mental health problems after the WCA process found him fit for work. His son’s benefits were stopped six months ago, when he refused to attend a jobcentre.

WCA And Mental Health- A Case Study
http://perfectlyfadeddelusions.com/2015/11/24/wca-and-mental-health-a-case-study/

Fit-for-work tests linked to relapses in those with mental health problems

Tougher “fit for work” tests introduced to assess eligibility for disability benefit have caused relapses in patients with serious mental health conditions, according to a consultant with the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

http://perfectlyfadeddelusions.com/2015/11/25/fit-for-work-tests-linked-to-relapses-in-those-with-mental-health-problems-3/

Death and the State: How DWP sanctions snuff out Lives
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2ee4-DEATH-AND-THE-STATE-HOW-DWP-SANCTIONS-SNUFF-OUT-LIVES#.Vg5sSvlVhBc

Known number of deaths while claiming incapacity benefits nears 100,000
http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/08/27/known-number-of-deaths-while-claiming-incapacity-benefits-nears-100000/

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2 thoughts on “Welfare Reforms: People Suffering Mental Health are the Hardest Hit

  1. Someone in my immediate family who has been very ill and unable to work for the last 2 years had her fitness to work assessment this week. It was utterly brutal, she is traumatised from the experience, emotionally and physically wrecked. What the Tories are doing to the most vulnerable is unspeakable, an outrage! I am going to share this on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you for all the hard work and research you put into this excellent post!

  2. Sorry to hear about your family member, her experience sounds just awful, sadly much like that of many other people and is more common than people think. Such treatment of sick and disabled people affects not only their lives of course but those of the people who care about them such as partners, relatives and friends. It is depressing to see someone you care about going through such an ordeal, an ordeal that should not be and is not necessary. Life with an illness or disability is difficult enough without these gruelling and unfair assessments which are traumatic in the extreme. Such harassment by the DWP is an outrage and I cannot understand why more people are not speaking out. Thank you for your comment and for sharing on facebook and Twitter.

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