Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who refuse treatment for depression

Reposted from the Telegraph

As if the Tories haven’t damaged peoples mental health enough with their flawed policies, now we have this … they really don’t give a sh*t do they.

Unemployment: People queue outside a a Jobcentre Plus branch.

The number of people who have been out of work for two years has doubled since 2010 Photo: Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants face being stripped of their state allowances if they refuse to undergo treatment for anxiety and depression, under radical plans being drawn up by ministers.

Existing welfare rules mean it is not possible to require claimants to have treatment, such as therapy or counselling, as a condition of receiving sickness benefits.

Senior ministers now believe the rules should be reviewed in order to reduce the “huge” numbers of people who are declared unfit for work due to mental health problems.

The first moves towards potential reform are expected in a series of pilot schemes to be launched within weeks.

The trials, jointly designed by the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions, will test ways of combining treatment for mental health problems with support to find work.

According to the government, 46 per cent of benefit claimants receiving Employment and Support Allowance, the main benefit for ill and disabled people, have mental health problems.

This means that the proposal to enforce treatment could apply to an estimated 260,000 claimants, who receive up to £101 per week each in ESA.

Estimates based on government figures suggest the state spends up to £1.4 billion a year – more than £3.5 million per day – on ESA for these claimants with mental health issues.

The reforms however, would apply only to those claimants judged to be capable of some work in future.

Those who are judged to be incapable of work due to the severity of their conditions would not be targeted under the plans.

Tory ministers hope to persuade senior Liberal Democrats to back the idea of mandating treatment for benefit claimants with common mental health problems.

The proposal will raise ethical questions about whether the state should have the power to force patients to undergo treatment.

It could lead to a fresh row with campaigners and charities who have claimed that the coalition’s welfare reforms already target vulnerable people with poor mental and physical health.

Conservatives could include the proposal for mandatory treatments in the party manifesto next year as part of the next phase of reforms to the welfare state.

A senior government source said “a huge number” of claimants on ESA who cannot work have treatable mental health issues such as “depression and anxiety”.

“We know that depression and anxiety are treatable conditions. Cognitive behavioural therapies work and they get people stable again but you can’t mandate people to take that treatment,” the source said.

“But there are loads of people who claim ESA who undergo no treatment whatsoever. It is bizarre. This is a real problem because we want people to get better.

“These are areas we need to explore. The taxpayer has committed a lot of money but the idea was never to sustain them for years and years on benefit. We think it’s time for a rethink.

“At some point something has to be done. Right now it’s an open ended contract.”

The source suggested that successful treatments could reduce the numbers of people with mental health issues claiming the benefits by up to 90 per cent.

Benefit claimants receiving ESA, are typically paid up to £101 per week if they are deemed potentially capable of work and are placed in the so-called “work-related activity group” of welfare recipients.

If they fail to abide by conditions such attending work-focused interviews, their ESA payments can be reduced as a sanction. No conditions are currently applied requiring claimants to undergo treatment for health problems.

One trial began last month, looking at combining “talking therapies” with employment support. Four jobcentres are taking part.

The intention of the scheme is to give benefit claimants early access to experts who can help them prepare for work while they are receiving treatment for mental health issues.

Three further trials being launched this summer are intended to test different ways of linking mental health services with support for benefit claimants seeking work.

One of these schemes is designed to analyse effectiveness of “group work” to help build the “resilience” of individuals who are out of work and suffering with poor mental health.

An other trial will see whether better results can be achieved by hiring specialist private organisations outside the NHS and welfare system to take control of providing a combination of psychological and employment support to claimants.

A final pilot scheme will assess the effectiveness of offering online tests and therapies at improving individuals’ health and job prospects.

Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem health minister, said mandating mental health treatment for benefit claimaints would not work and was “not a sensible idea”.

“The idea that you frogmarch someone into therapy with the threat of a loss of benefits simply won’t work,” he said. “It is not a question of whether tough love is a good concept.

“You actually need someone to go into therapy willingly.”

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24 Responses to Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who refuse treatment for depression

  1. Methusalada says:

    There are two main causes or types of depression 1. Reactive and 2. Indigenous. Both of which can be totally debilitating for most people if they are not treated effectively & recognised correctly by the person suffering from such by their partner family or friends.
    I have my self suffered from two reactive depressions the first from 1969 to 1972 when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer & she received all sorts of care & treatment . Non of which could prevent her death in 1972 . This period was truly horrendous for both of us. The 2nd reactive depression was due to my own decision in the selection of my 2nd marriage partner whom I quickly left & divorced . So it possible to suggest that I was at fault in my decision making capabilities during this period of my life. However both of these events were more than 35 years ago & since then I have been able to maintain some lower standard of income & job stability .Should I have to live through these events today I can honestly say that I am not sure I could survive.

    Secondly Indigenous depression is something far worse than that which I suffered from and for which the “cures ” are uncertain & variable. Some of the effects of such suffers can I understand be controlled or limited by medication & counselling . The later of which is in tiny & in short supply. Research for cures in this field of indigenous depression are as I understand even more primitive & limited as are the causes. I do as a human being understand my obligation to offer support to them.
    Finally I would like to express my concerns for a new phase, type of mental illness that engages most of the people on this planet today, but which is discharged & controlled so abundantly by “the few”. These few being the psychotics and psychopath’s whose main pleasure is in profiteering in the death , suffering and disabilities of other human beings. They are sadly part of the human race today and expanding more rapidly than any other type of mental illness! These being the homicidal maniacs . I am left wondering how Governments such as our Government & their Ministers can ever be relieved or prevented from empowering these low life forms of human beings from attaining and using such power against humanity in the future ? Or indeed against their own peoples. e.g. Boris Johnson the Blondie Bullingdon Boy.


  2. jaynel62 says:

    My Take – Another Government ‘Fag packet’ proposal for Benefit Sanctions & Cuts? … Next Target #MentalHealth


  3. Ann Onymous says:

    Endogenous depression, not Indigenous


    • Methusalada says:

      Thank you Ann, I stand corrected on my word power terminology, I am not a medical practitioner or wordsmith. However Endogenous depression is I believe the least treatable & least curable form of mental illness. Though with a knowledgeable & experienced GP some sufferers of such a condition may be able to ( live with & survive) I couldn’t find the correct word or phrase to define the positive aspect of this condition. All I do know is that today in 2014 , I am so grateful that my reactive depression (serious at the time) did not convert into a permanent endogenous depression. This I believe was due to the specialist medical profession & counselling that received within the NHS over 35 years ago which is no longer available for todays patients. So today I count myself as one chirpy Chappy who can say I’ve been their done that & not sadly smile knowing that I am one of the last of the few survivors from the 1970’s like Mark Boland.


  4. Joanna says:

    You cannot deal with work support until the mind is healed!!! the fecking idiots!!!


  5. as a retired counsellor having worked for 12 years in GP Practice, I counselled a lot of people with Depression and found that ‘prescribing’ counselling to people doesn’t work, there is a huge drop out rate for lots of reasons. Counselling should be offered not enforced, it doesn’t work. Another ploy of the government to degrade and push people with mental health problems further into poverty methinks


  6. Not only are they missing the problem by country mile, they are thinking small Bouts of depression are the only problem people have gotthere is generally another problem that accompanies the depression, fix that problem first then you may have a chance of recovery. Also they forget that Dr Shipman and Beverly Allet had mental issues and look what happened there. If you say someone is ok because you “believe” it you will have a bigger problem on your hands later. People with mental health issues should be treated by the right health professionels and not by the the airy fairy talk yourself well newly qualified pshycologist. I predict more trouble for the Gov when they find there are alot of serouosly ill people out there.. Just like now there are more people going into the support group 40-50% when they expected 12-17%. Oh dear that means that the people on ESA are really ill and not scamming the public.


  7. O2bwell says:

    I have Hashimotos, Hypothyroidism, Cronic kidney Diease stage 3, IBS, Low Calcium, Vitamin D insuffiency, Insomnia . And I suffer from Depression due to being so ill all the time, I was recently prescribed Antidepressants that within two of taking made me seriously ill, I couldn’t go out of the house for 3 days and had bowel problems for three weeks. When I returned to the Drs I told him what had happened, his response try a different Antidepressant . I declined the offer. I have been put in the work activity group of ESA , these proposals are really frightening. I will not take their poison, I am not prepared to take something that will make my conditions worse. Antidepressants can cause Low Thyroid, Osteoarthritis and can make anxiety worse.
    Really Really scared, Are they trying to kill us off quicker ?


  8. Sorry to hear that O2bwell. The way it’s going I think they’ll either have us all sectioned or on workfare!


  9. This is really bad. Cause the problem with the unemployment and all the chronic stress and then step in with another thinly disguised stick to sort out the problems they caused in the first place.

    The only thing is to not let them get away with it. Find out what works for you! There is so much good stuff out there on the internet to help and get your own support and way of coping.

    A fantastic grow your own summit includes those with only a windowsill or hot cupboard with fantastic ideas for community gardens and employment but also doctors like Lissa Rankin with Mind over Medicine with masses of free resources including an incredible healing meditation plus tapping a non-invasive therapy which costs nothing and can be learned in a few minutes with incredible results which is spectacular for dealing with past trauma.

    Stuff this lot – we can see where it is all heading and it is not to a good place. Take a leaf out of Bill Hicks book and enjoy the ride!



  10. Reblogged this on amnesiaclinic and commented:
    Very worrying….


  11. anon says:

    What is both bizarre and hilarious (if it wasn’t for it being so tragic) about this, is that I have wept, begged, humiliated myself and grovelled to doctors half my age for a couple of tablets of low dose diazepam (the only bl00dy thing that helps) to help me cope with an Atos inquisition (and believe me I was SUICIDAL with dread and despair over the prospect)…and do you think I could get a prescription? No, I was talked down to like a three year old child and told ‘you will get hooked dear’.

    Hooked? When she wouldn’t write me a prescription for just enough for ONE DAY? Or did she expect me to go hawking my elderly arthritic body on the streets for a fix of prescription meds?


    Apart from which if the govt gets its way we will all be PAYING FOR OUR NHS TREATMENT before very long – which would seem to exclude anyone on benefits from accessing healthcare – especially those with mental health issues being specifically targeted for sanctions.

    You couldn’t make this up.


  12. @anon I wonder what the Tories would have done about this man, who was mentally ill and forced back to work.


  13. anon says:

    Something that may help some readers of this article:

    The latest research on depression has confirmed that endogenous depression (not related to life events such as dealing with the DWP) is caused by INFLAMMATION SOMEWHERE IN THE BODY. The next generation of antidepressant drugs is expected to be anti-inflammatory medicines. (It may be that anyone with an autoimmine condition will greet the prospect with howls of derison, since such drugs are usually lethal on multiple fronts.)

    On the bright side, NATURAL anti-inflammatories such as large daily doses of cod liver oil, Omega-3 (NEVER touch omega-6 which is horribly toxic!) and Evening Primrose Oil, WORK BETTER than most pharmaceutical drugs to control inflammation.

    The other thing to do is NEVER EAT WHEAT. Preferably go on a gluten-free diet (expensive I know for anyone on benfits but a true lifesaver). People check out the work of Dr. William Davis (his book ‘Wheat Belly’ ISBN-10: 0007568134 can be found on Amazon, and he also has a blog).
    (Also try ‘Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes and ‘Grain Brain’ by David Perlmutter).

    The wheat in our food now is NOT the wheat our grandparents ate. It has been adulterated to improve yield and make money, and it will mess up your insulin causing weight gain and diabetes. It also has chemicals (especially the gluten) that triggers autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, CKD, MS, Lupus, Parkinson’s, etc. etc.

    The epidemic of obesity that appeared in Britain during the 1980s was due to the wheat switchover. And it was marketed to the sheeple by telling them that wholegrains, fibre and complex carbs were better for us than protein and fat. It was a pack of lies.

    And tragically, when budgets are tight, we tend to rely more on wheat based products.

    Doctors who think gluten is only a coeliac/digestive issue are WRONG, and negative tests for coeliac do not rule out gluten sensitivity. The only way to know for sure is to cut out gluten for a few days and see if you feel better (you’re likely to have headaches and aches initially due to withdrawal).

    Hoping that this helps someone – just try if for a week, and if you feel better, share it and make it go viral!


  14. Pingback: Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who...

  15. beastrabban says:

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This is another classic example of the way the Tories have no understanding of mental illness, and zero sympathy with the victims. Unfortunately, not everyone with anxiety or depression responds to treatment. I strongly advise people reading this to look also at the comments describing depression by Methusalada, Margaret Perkins, and davidwilson 3457451595, and O2bwell. I’ve also known people with quite serious problems with depression and anxiety, who did not take their medication because it did not work. As for the government minister, who claimed that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy worked, he clearly has absolutely no medical knowledge whatsoever. CBT is one of the few therapies that does work, however, it does not work for everybody. And lastly, I don’t believe that supporting people should be conditional on their receiving medical help. This isn’t about getting people into work. This is simply about cutting benefits. As for using group work, and private organisations to provide a combination of psychological and employment support for claimants, this is simply more of the usual. We’ve seen this before with the private companies who ring up the long term unemployment and subject them to a harangue about why they haven’t found a job. You can see the effectiveness and quality of care provided by private firms like Atos and its pseudo-scientific medical assessment. This is exactly more of the same rubbish by people who know nothing, but want to make a quick profit from the poor and sick. Once again, the government follows the advice of quacks and mountebanks. If this was ever suggested by a qualified doctor, I hope he or she would get struck off and never allowed to practice again.


  16. Methusalada says:

    Societies ills today are not curable and are rarely caused by those in NHS medical profession . I have only one word for all UK politicians to learn, understand & practise . COMPASSION !


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