Tag Archives: Mental health

An Ever Decreasing Spiral of Despair


Esther McVey and Iain Duncan Smith. Do they want more poor people to die?

“Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who refuse treatment for depression” screamed the Telegraph headline.

This is worrying for so many reasons, I hardly know where to start.

Perhaps with the unnamed “Senior ministers” who “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. ” I have to wonder what qualifications these politicians hold in the field of mental health. If they think that treating mental illness is so simple, I have to conclude that they are not qualified at all.

Or perhaps I should start by wondering who would provide this “service”. It probably won’t be people’s own GP, as the government don’t trust them enough to take their word above that of ATOS assessors when it comes to the notorious Work Capability Assessment. It may be a similarly incompetent company, leeching money away from the NHS in return for a pseudo- cure. That cure would probably simply be to declare the claimant “fit for work”.

Or it could be job centre “advisors” pronouncing on people’s health, ignoring the claimant’s own doctor’s advice, and just sanctioning people to meet their targets.

Since the proposed “treatments” seem to include prescription drugs, some kind of health professionals with the ability to write prescriptions will likely be involved, but they would need to act professionally, rather than just have some impressive looking letters after their names. Giving antidepressants to people with other medical problems, and with other medication, could be unhelpful, or even dangerous. My doctor is reluctant to give me antidepressants because I also use eye-drops, which could be undermined by taking other drugs. I could end up blind as a result.

Or perhaps it’s enough to point out that threatening to deprive already ill people of their means to survive is going to be stressful, and will only serve to deepen any existing anxiety or depression.

An ever decreasing spiral of misery which some victims will only be able to see an escape from through suicide. It’s already happened to far too many people, and it’s likely to happen to more.



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See No Evil, Hear No Evil – Talk Bollocks

I’ve noticed a couple of times on Twitter someone claiming that the mere act of reporting that people are committing suicide after losing some or all of their benefits is irresponsible, and that suicides will increase as a result. Now, in the Telegraph, Brendan O’Neill adds the slur that those of us who care enough to even notice are exploiting “such psychologically disturbed behaviour for political ends“.

His “reasoning” seems to be that suicide “ is not a rational response to having your benefits cut” and we therefore can’t link the deaths to the cuts.

Of COURSE suicide isn’t rational, that’s the point we’re all making! Vulnerable people are losing money that they can ill afford, are often in danger of losing the very roof over their heads, don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and are increasingly desperate about their future, until it all becomes too much for them.

Keeping quiet about suicides doesn’t slow down the rate, however. It just keeps them hidden, and better off people, who don’t rely on benefits, can smugly pretend there isn’t a problem.

O’Neill ends:

” These campaigners approach working-class and less well-off communities through the politics of pity rather than the politics of solidarity, and consequently have a tendency to view “the poor” as vulnerable, at risk, irrational, on the cusp of suicide, and in constant need of care and largesse from the do-gooding state. Poorer communities would be far better off fighting against such Victorian-style pity-politics than against Cameron’s welfare reforms.”

Not everybody is vulnerable in terms of mental health. On the other hand, poverty is a vulnerability in itself, since one increasingly needs money these days to obtain any kind of justice. Even a small reduction in benefits can be devastating.

Something that  Brendan O’Neill probably cannot, or will not, see, ensconced as he is in his ivory tower.