Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
April 5, 2011

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Mental-health sufferers let down by fit-for-work reassessments

As the national rollout of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) programme begins this week, a disability charity has urged the Government to hit the brakes until the test is working fairly and effectively.

Mind issued its call following the results of a survey, which showed that the reassessment is causing widespread distress among Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants with mental-health problems.

Over the next three years, 1.6 million people are due to undergo a WCA to establish whether they are eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), or will be moved on to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and expected to find work.

But Mind believes that the WCA is too rigid and unsophisticated to recognise people’s mental-health needs, and is concerned that it is delivered by people with insufficient mental-health training.

In a poll of more than 300 people, half reported that anxiety about being reassessed had led them to have suicidal thoughts, and three-quarters said distress about the WCA had made their mental health worse.

The survey also found that:

  • 45 per cent have visited their GP or psychiatrist, and 32 per cent have increased their medication as a result of the anxiety caused by the prospect of reassessment;
  • 78 per cent do not feel well informed about forthcoming changes to Incapacity Benefit;
  • 95 per cent do not think they will be believed at their assessment; and
  • 89 per cent believe they will be forced back to work before they are ready, or able.

Chief executive of Mind, Paul Farmer, said: “The changes to welfare reform have been designed to root out “the feckless” and “the workshy”, but people with mental-health problems are neither. In fact, many actively want help in finding work but face many barriers, including stigma and discrimination, and inadequate support into employment.

“As things stand, though, we remain extremely concerned about the mass reassessment of people on incapacity benefits, as, despite some changes to the process, it still lacks the sensitivity to understand conditions such as mental-health problems.”

Earlier this week, Work and Pensions minister, Chris Grayling, told the BBC: “My message to people who are worried about this process is that this is all about helping those who can return to work. It’s not about forcing people to return to work, but unless we do the assessments, unless we identify who has that potential, we’ll never be able to offer that help.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


Related Topics

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
13 years ago

As someone with a family member with mental health challenges, I fail to see the “you have nothing to fear” message being given out. There may well be a very small minority who are work-shy, but surely for each one there is a GP signing them off. Why not tackle the issue there? I’m pretty resigned to the fact that the assessments don’t cope with mental health issues, and that we will just have to face being worse off or be rejected for every job and then ill and back in hospital in 6-12 months.