WCA And Mental Health- A Case Study
David*, a father of two from Stroud, Gloucestershire, has watched his teenage son struggle with anxiety and increasing mental health problems after the WCA process found him fit for work. His son’s benefits were stopped six months ago, when he refused to attend a jobcentre. He does not blame the test for his son’s worsening mental health, but believes he was unfairly assessed, which did not help his situation.
The 19-year-old has severe irritable bowel syndrome and associated incontinence, for which he is receiving treatment, as well as mental health problems that were undiagnosed until recently. He was receiving employment support allowance (ESA), a lifeline that allowed him a degree of independence from his parents, who live in a semi-rural community.
“People are complex, people are different, that’s why the system is cruel,” David said. “Sometimes my son can take the dog for a walk, but other times he has to go to the toilet every 20 minutes. He often has to wear nappies.
“His GP had signed him off sick, but on ESA you can only get signed off for so long. You get to a point where no matter what a health professional says, it doesn’t make any difference. If Atos or Maximus, who are doing the tests now, say it doesn’t qualify, it makes no difference what the consultants are saying.”
David said since his son’s mental health has deteriorated since he was found fit for work and his benefits were stopped.
“For the last six months, he hasn’t had any money coming in. He’s isolated, he can’t see his friends, who have money. He couldn’t face the prospect of attending the jobcentre every two to three days with his difficulties and when he is hearing voices.”
“He’s now at the point where his mental health has deteriorated so much he has had a psychotic episode. We had a psychiatrist from the early intervention team come around last week. I can now prove, because of this letter from the psychiatrist, that he is mentally ill.”
* Name has been changed to protect his anonymity