A day on the Mind infoline
Posted Friday 3 December 2010
I have been working on the Mind infoline for about nine months now. Recently we have been receiving lots of calls from people who are really worried about the proposed changes to the welfare system.
We started to receive calls when the budget was announced earlier this year but we have had a lot more since the spending review last month. Many people have been ringing us really worried about what the changes will mean for them. Over the past months I have been reading the news, blogs and campaigns sections of our website and others to find out more about what is happening so I can communicate this to callers and explain how Mind is getting involved to make the review fairer for everyone.
At the Mind infoline we signpost people to the services that can help them. For example, many local Mind associations give benefits support, as well as Citizens Advice Bureaux or community based advice centres. We also have a lot of information on the Mind website about mental health and benefits.
This week in particular I have been talking to callers about the independent review of the Work Capability Assessment by Professor Harrington. The review has some really positive points and agrees with many of the issues that people talk about when they call the help line, such as the need for greater use of medical evidence alongside the assessment, as well as having mental and cognitive experts in every assessment centre so that the changes don’t unfairly discriminate against people with mental distress.
One person I spoke to was particularly positive about the review once I’d explained some of the points to him. They said that they said the only information about the review they had heard from the news was “really upsetting and negative”.
The past few weeks have also highlighted to me the impact the media can have on people. I have spoken to people who have seen the coverage and who are so worried and upset about losing the welfare support they are entitled to or even losing their homes that they have had suicidal thoughts. Many people contact us about having thoughts about ending their lives and we offer support and give them information about where they can get help in a crisis situation. Although people’s needs are very different, we always look at general medical support such as a local accident and emergency department as well as other non-NHS support.
It’s really important for me to make sure that people know about the options available to them and to try to reassure them that there is support available.
Peter, Mind infoline
Peter and the Mind infoline team speak to around 100 callers each day on a variety of subjects. Please donate to the Big Give challenge today and support the helpline throughout January. Starting on Monday 6 December, every gift to the Big Give challenge will be doubled, making your donation go twice as far.
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