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Back To Work Schemes Making Mental Health Issues Worse, Says Charity

December 11, 2014

The government’s back-to-work schemes are ineffective and damaging for people with mental health problems, according to campaigners.

The charity Mind says unemployed people with mental health problems should be moved from mainstream programmes onto a specialist scheme.

Mind surveyed 439 people supported by the government’s Work Programme.

The government says it has helped thousands of people with mental illnesses into work.

The coalition government introduced the Work Programme – a key plank in its welfare reform agenda – in 2011. Participants are given support but can face sanctions if they fail to comply with certain conditions.

According to Mind, 83% of people they surveyed said using the programme and the government’s job centre services had made their mental health worse.

Three quarters of those polled said they felt less able to work as a result of being on these schemes, the charity said.

At the same time, the schemes were ineffective for people with mental health problems, as only 5% of people had been helped into work, campaigners claimed.


The charity is calling for the government to introduce a specialist scheme for people with mental health problems. The Work Programme is a government welfare-to-work programme introduced in Great Britain in June 2011.

“It’s perverse that programmes which are supposed to help those who are unwell and struggling to get into work are having the opposite effect, damaging their health,” said Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive.

“These schemes are not appropriate for people with mental health problems. If someone is out of work because of depression and anxiety, simply asking them to attend a CV writing course is a waste of time and money, as it doesn’t address the real problems they are facing.

“Forcing people to engage in these activities, and cutting their benefits if they struggle to do so, is inappropriate and counter-productive.

“This approach assumes people don’t want to work and the only way to motivate them is to withdraw financial support, which only causes greater anxiety and stress, and makes returning to work less likely.”

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions defended the government’s schemes.

“Mind are overlooking the fact that previous jobs schemes simply didn’t do enough for people with mental health conditions,” he said.

“Everyone is different and so the Work Programme looks at an individual’s barriers to work and tailors the support specific to their needs.

“It has already helped thousands of people with mental health conditions into work – instead of just writing people off on sickness benefits as often happened in the past.”

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2014 9:51 am

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. December 11, 2014 10:09 am

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

  3. moira permalink
    December 11, 2014 10:31 am

    The gov(DWP) just haven’t listened and just not interested in report s findings. Instead ignoring their own figures that only 5% got back into work so work programme has done Jack got getting people with health problems back into work.

  4. December 11, 2014 12:31 pm

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics.

  5. December 11, 2014 9:08 pm

    As a disabled mature adult with mental health problems, even the prospect of being coerced onto one of theses schemes, or even being removed from the support group into the WRAG group, fills me with terror. I know I would not be able to cope with the derisive tactics used by the DWP, they would be very triggering to me as a victim of abuse which took many forms. To be subjected to humiliation, subjugation and psychologically beaten with the metaphorical ‘stick’ of the DWP ‘Nudge Unit’ (mind control), would be seriously damaging to my mental health and well being. It would not ‘encourage’ me to land myself in work. For one, Im in my 50s, a working class Female, intelligent, who has a psychological disorder due to being treated like that in the first place. They may think they are clever, have it all sewn up. I have seen their ‘GOALS’ website and agenda. Stick and Carrot ideology. Authoritarianism gone bonkers. We need this Government Removed from Power. To hold Power has its responsibilities, The first one to my mind is NOT TO ABUSE THAT POWER AGAINST THE POOR AND THE VULNERABLE. Role on May…… Lets all do our best to get some control back for the minions.

  6. December 11, 2014 9:12 pm

    Reblogged this on Lindas Blog.

  7. December 12, 2014 2:11 pm

    Reblogged this on amnesiaclinic and commented:
    Tragic. People with mental health problems need real support not this big stick approach which does nothing but increase anxiety.

  8. December 14, 2014 5:29 am

    When I first started WP in June 2011, when it had only just started. I was given a piece of A4 with a wall printed on it. There were about 6 of us in the room. We were told to write in the bricks in the wall, our barriers to finding work.

    I left mine blank. When the adviser ask me why it was blank, I told her “I have no barriers, I have worked in the past and I expect to work in the future” it’s just a question of time.

    My relationship with WP assvisers went downhill from there. Constant threats of sanctions, disagreements over my CV, refusing to call employers because in my view “if an employer doesn’t give you there phone number, then they don’t want you to call them”.

    Refusing to call employers about failed applications. I don’t do this because the information you will be given is either unreliable, useless or both.

    I will explain this for those reading this, who are not aware of reality in business.

    An employer requires workers so they advertise the position. Applications for the position begin to arrive. These applications are sorted, time wasters are eliminated first, then they start to look for the most promising applicants. Interviews then follow. The employer will then select who they want to employ. But what about all those he didn’t employ. What to say to them, if they ask why?

    This has become a problem that all employers must have a standard answer for. there are rules for this. you can’t say;

    you were too old or too young. (ageist)
    You were the wrong sex. (Sexist)
    your English is poor. (racist)
    and so on.

    So you must have a safe standard answer, that goes something like this.

    “The level of applicants was very high, unfortunately you were unsuccessful this time.”

    This is short to the point and gives no actual information at all. So why call?

    Three times I was actually referred for sanctioning. Three times I avoided it. Within a month of finishing the WP I was on ESA with depression and anxiety. It’s been more than a year now and I’m still awaiting assessment.

    I’m still looking for work but without the stress of having to apply for a given number of them. that’s something else I don’t agree with, for reasons I’ll leave others to explain.

    “If you sit by the side of the river long enough, you will see the bodies of your enemies float by.”



  1. Mind Says Back To Work Schemes Making Mental Health Issues Worse – Same Difference | Vox Political

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