Managing money and making ends meet can be difficult for anyone. But for those of us with mental health problems life can throw in some extra hurdles. Even a trip across town to get a cup of tea with a friend can turn into a real expense if anxiety or panic attacks make it harder to get on a crowded bus. And if your mental health problem means you need to take time away from work, the uncertainty about how you’ll manage bills or rent can make it hard to focus on recovering.
We know there’s so much work to do. The current system can feel like a maze, with long confusing forms and nerve-wracking phone calls and assessments at every corner. Too often people with mental health problems need to go all the way to court before they can get the financial support they need. And for those who are out of work, there’s the constant threat of having your benefits stopped if you’re too unwell to do what you’ve been asked to by Jobcentre staff.
We’re doing all we can to push for change in the system by:
- Supporting people with mental health problems to have their voice heard in Parliament. We recently helped Denise and David share their experiences of benefits assessments with MPs and make the case for a more compassionate system.
- Intervening in legal cases where we think we can make a difference. In 2012 we helped challenge the Work Capability Assessment on the grounds that it discriminates against people with mental health problems. Right now we’re supporting someone who is challenging recent changes to PIP.
- Teaming up with other disability charities and other mental health charities to make a united case on the issues that affect us all, like the Disability Benefits Consortium’s campaign to protect benefits spending.
- Meeting with and writing to people in Government to raise our concerns and make sure that the voices of people with mental health problems are heard. That includes sending a member of Mind staff to work with the civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions to try to get them to better understand what people with mental health problems go through in the benefits system.
- Doing research and writing reports and briefings that turn the stories and experiences of people with mental health problems into recommendations for change that we can use to campaign with MPs and with the Government.
- Getting the stories of people with mental health problems heard in the media. In the last year we’ve drawn newspapers’ attention to issues including sanctions, to people’s negative experiences of benefits assessments and discriminatory changes to PIP.
- Supporting people with mental health problems to influence change. Through our online campaigning we’ve helped 500 people give evidence on benefits assessments to the Work and Pensions Committee, and nearly 3000 people tell the Government what they think about back-to-work support, sanctions and the Work Capability Assessment. We’ve also supported people with mental health problems to question MPs, Ministers and civil servants directly at meetings and hustings.
There’s a huge way to go to get the change we need. And some or even most of what we do won’t be enough by itself. But we do it because it’s important, because people need to be heard, and because it only takes one breakthrough to change thousands of people’s lives. Every single day we hear from people who have their financial security and their mental health put at risk by a system that just isn’t working. We’re here to make sure that anyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. And we can’t ignore a single opportunity that might help us do that.