According to an article in the Telegraph, the Government is considering stopping payments of the disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for people with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression who refuse treatment.
Nearly half of people who are currently receiving ESA do so because of a mental health problem. People in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA are required to undertake certain activities in order to receive this support but this is the first time the Government has suggested this include treatment for a mental health problem.
Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:
“Threatening to stop benefits unless people with mental health problems undertake treatment would be totally inappropriate. If people are not getting access to the support they need, the Government should address levels of funding for mental health services rather than putting even more pressure on those supported by benefits and not currently well enough to work. Talking therapies can be effective, but it is often a combination of treatments which allow people to best manage their symptoms and engaging in therapy should be voluntary."
“A recent independent report supported by Mind found the vast majority of people with disabilities want to work, but they need support to overcome the barriers they face - from their confidence and skills through to employers’ attitudes and the support available in the workplace. Forcing people to undertake activities under the threat of sanctions is not only ineffective in helping people back to work but is actually pushing them further from employment, creating immense anxiety and damaging their health.”