ELECTION 2015: Harper suggests backing for mental health treatment sanctions

Reposted from Disability News Service

The Tory minister for disabled people appears to have accidentally admitted what many disabled activists feared: that a Conservative government would cut the out-of-work benefits of people with mental health conditions if they refused treatment.

In a debate broadcast on local radio, Mark Harper strongly suggested that people with mental health problems would be among the group with “long-term yet treatable” conditions who could be sanctioned if they refused treatment.

The pledge to review whether such sanctions should be introduced is included in the Tory manifesto, under a promise to “review how best to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions, such as drug or alcohol addiction, or obesity, back into work”.

It adds: “People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work.

“If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether their benefits should be reduced.”

But the party has refused to confirm that people with mental health conditions would be among this group facing potential sanctions.

Disabled activists have described the plans as “wild, stupid”, “unconscionable”, and “highly dangerous”, while the Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, who chaired the Commons health select committee in the last parliament, has said on Twitter that sanctions linked to medical treatment would be “unethical”.

But this week, at an election hustings event hosted by the BBC in Harper’s Forest of Dean constituency, the minister for disabled people appeared to confirm that people with long-term mental health problems would be among those facing sanctions.

He told the audience: “For people who are long-term sick… sometimes people simply can’t return to work and we need to make sure we support them, which is why we have systems in place.

“The most beneficial thing we can do though is to deal with the disability that they have got and particularly with those people with mental health problems, most of which are treatable, is to get the support in place so they can get back to work, which is what most of them want to do.”

So far, neither Harper nor the Conservative party have been willing to comment on Harper’s apparent blunder, which came after Tory ministers repeatedly ducked out of opportunities to defend their disability-related policies and their record over the last five years.

Last week, Harper himself cancelled an appearance on Newsnight, when he was due to debate benefit reform with representatives of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

And this week, employment minister Esther McVey was reported to have pulled out of a planned live interview with the radio station LBC.

The party has said it would cut social security spending by a further £12 billion a year if re-elected, but has yet to say how it will find most of these “savings”.

Disability News Service has already reported how the Tories declined invitations to take part in three national disability-related hustings events organised by the Alliance for Inclusive Education, Learning Disability Alliance England, and the British Deaf Association.

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8 Responses to ELECTION 2015: Harper suggests backing for mental health treatment sanctions

  1. stilloaks says:

    Reblogged this on DWPExamination..


  2. sdbast says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.


  3. anon says:

    CBT seems to be raising increasing concern in many parts of the world where governmants have started imposing it on convicted criminals held in prisons. So these plans seem in keeping with the UK government’s ‘parallel penal system’ in which punitive measures such as community service (aka workfare) and fines (benefit sanctions) are increasingly inflicted on INNOCENT citizens merely for falling foul of neoliberal bigotry against poverty and disadvantage.

    However a potentially helpful thing that US activists have discovered is that coercive mental “health” and other medical procedures are clear violations of THE NUREMBERG CODE on medical procedures and research

    The DWP’s rollout of Imposed psychological treatments also has an EXPERIMENTAL aspect in that mass forced treatment programmes have never been used previously in modern Britain. The Nuremberg Code sets very specific boundaries concerning experimentation.

    So even if the Tories were to pull out of other human rights protections during a further term in office, it seems unlikely that even they could wriggle out of the Nuremberg Code regarding forced medical and psychological measures.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sasson Hann says:

    Many of us with M.E./Fibromyalgia like illnesses are really frightened by this prospect, since NICE guidelines class these illnesses as somatafom and ultimately treatable conditions. My local Rheumy department’s psychologist has blocked ANY further access to the clinic unless I agree to engage in a 2-day-a-week programme; mornings spent in the gym and afternoons in lectures concerning pain and or psychological therapy.

    I told him that I could barely attend for one hour a week, even that was too much for me, and if I could manage 2 days a week there I would be back at work. I’m at the point of physical collapse every day just knocking about the house let alone going on this kind of programme.

    A few years later, due to muscle deterioration my knee cartilages locked so I couldn’t straighten my legs (this has happened often since then). I saw my G.P. and asked for a referral; 2 weeks later I received an appointment from the Rheumy department with a covering page that stated ‘What to expect in your psychology appointment’. True to his word, this psychologist had blocked treatment unless I saw him again. I was naturally livid, cancelled the appointment telling them exactly why I was doing so, and arranged my own physiotherapy; I recovered in about 6 weeks. Needless to say, the way the department has acted towards me is TOTALLY unethical.

    As regards forced mental health treatment, it goes without saying that it is totally unethical too. To say that most mental health is treatable is completely ignorant. I know quite a few people with severe mental health difficulties ranging from psychosis, schizophrenia, severe social anxiety and PTSD. During their lives they’ve all received the standard 8 sessions of therapy and I can tell you that it DOESN’T work for people like this. I myself have PTSD on top of all the physical problems, and although I’ve had much therapy, the best therapy I ever had was that which I did on my own via moodgym online. Since then I’ve had severe bouts of anxiety, and the thought that a government could force therapy/treatments would have pushed me over the edge.

    It is truly wicked to say that you’re going to starve people into submission regarding therapy/physical treatments. I just hope the country sees through this evil government and kicks them out!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Totally agree with you Sasson Hann. Might be worth complaining, even if you are not successful, it at least shows you are not to be messed with and it’s been my experience that once you have complained you do get treated slightly better.



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