Tagged: mental health

ELECTION 2015: Harper suggests backing for mental health treatment sanctions

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

Reposted from Disability News Service

The Tory minister for disabled people appears to have accidentally admitted what many disabled activists feared: that a Conservative government would cut the out-of-work benefits of people with mental health conditions if they refused treatment.

In a debate broadcast on local radio, Mark Harper strongly suggested that people with mental health problems would be among the group with “long-term yet treatable” conditions who could be sanctioned if they refused treatment.

The pledge to review whether such sanctions should be introduced is included in the Tory manifesto, under a promise to “review how best to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions, such as drug or alcohol addiction, or obesity, back into work”.

It adds: “People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work.

“If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether…

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Mental health experts criticise government austerity agenda

Order Of Truth

mhaustOver 400 psychotherapists, counsellors, and other mental health professionals have described government proposals contained in the budget as “profoundly disturbing” and creating an “intimidatory disciplinary regime”.

In a letter to The Guardian newspaper, the experts said that austerity cuts are impacting on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of the nation, and amounted to nothing more than unethical ‘get to work therapy’.

Increasing inequality and poverty, families being moved out of their homes and new systems determining benefit levels were part of “a wider reality of a society thrown completely off balance by the emotional toxicity of neoliberal thinking”, according to more than 400 signatories to the letter. The consequences were “most visible in the therapist’s consulting room”.

The letter’s writers said it “sounds the starting bell for a broadly based campaign of organisations and professionals against the damage that neoliberalism is doing to the nation’s mental health”.

The 2015 budget…

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North East teachers bringing food into work for hungry children

Teachers are being forced to bring food into school to feed hungry children, a North East union leader has warned.

Simon Kennedy, regional organiser of the teaching union NASUWT, said school-funded breakfast clubs and teachers bringing food into work was a “sad situation” for the fourth richest country in the world.

However, the Conservative Party said the number of children living in poverty in England and Wales has fallen by 300,000 during the party’s term in office.

Speaking after the NASUWT held its annual conference in Cardiff at the weekend, Mr Kennedy said child poverty has become a growing problem.

“Kids are coming into school hungry and that is affecting their educational attainment,” he said.

“Teachers are bringing food into work because these children would sometimes not otherwise eat.

“Schools are also dipping into their budgets to pay for breakfast clubs which were originally set up to encourage healthy eating among children.

“So many parents in the North East are relying on , especially in Newcastle which has the busiest foodbank in the country.

“Whichever government comes in needs to increase the amount of investment in education. But a basic part of our society should be to ensure that our children are fed. Children of today should not be left to go hungry.”

Teachers at the conference also raised the problem of excessive workload, which they say is not only damaging their mental health, but also driving talented teachers out of the profession.

Nearly 90% of teachers at the conference cited excessive workload as the greatest concern they have about their job.

Mr Kennedy said: “Many teachers work every evening and every weekend and they’re not being paid for it.

“There is this endless drive to improve and what’s best for the child and the teacher has gone out of the window.

“School management is being forced to focus more on the league tables and the next Ofsted inspection rather than the children’s needs.

“Increased workloads, coupled with a cut in pay for teachers, has led to many in the profession leaving work or suffering from mental health problems.

“Media coverage would have you think teachers are failing our young people in some way, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Meanwhile, teachers have backed calls for a ballot on strike action over shortfalls to school funding.

The ballot motion was backed at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference in Harrogate, where members heard claims that funding shortages would threaten redundancies.

A Conservative spokesman said:

“Under the Conservatives, the number of children living in poverty has fallen by 300,000.

“Extending free meals has led to over a million more children eating a school meal at lunchtime and by introducing the Pupil Premium, we are targeting an extra £2.5 billion toward the education of the most disadvantaged every year, which helping close the attainment gap with their peers.

“Thanks to our policies, there are more jobs than ever before, wages are rising faster than prices and with the lowest inflation on record, family budgets are starting to go further. The NASUWT should recognise how the Conservatives have rescued the economy, and through that, are delivering the jobs that secure a better future for families.

“Our Child Poverty Strategy is tackling poverty at its source: dealing with the problems of worklessness and family breakdown which blight the lives of vulnerable families. But we know that there is much more to do. We need to stick to our long-term economic plan, so that all children have the best possible start in life.”

> All I can say is it’s a good thing Pinoccio isn’t a government spokesman…

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 08 Apr 2015

Fit-For-Work Tests Discriminate Against Women

Mental health campaigners have criticised new Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance, which could make it more difficult for women to claim sickness benefits than men.

New guidance issued by the DWP to healthcare professionals assessing people for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), suggests that men and women should be tested differently.

A man who has been diagnosed with mental health problems and in danger of self-harm or suicide may be assessed as having limited capability for work. Whereas a women in the same position could be asked to show additional ‘personal factors’, such as a family history of suicide, in order to receive ESA.

The Government says the advice has been issued because suicide is “more prevalent among men than women”.

However, campaigners say the new guidance is over-simplistic and added that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has already been heavily criticised over fairness and accuracy.

Carolyn Roberts from the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) warned that the changes were “potentially harmful” and urged the DWP to withdraw the advice.

“The Work Capability Assessment has already been heavily criticised for not being able to accurately assess mental health problems, with independent reviews recommending its assessors should have more experience in mental health”, she said.

“And while it is undoubtedly true that more men lose their lives to suicide than women, this looks like the addition of a blunt and unsophisticated method of assessment to a system that is already failing people with mental health problems. SAMH calls on the DWP to withdraw these new rules.”

Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at mental health charity Mind, said the charity is “seeking further clarification from the DWP on the reasoning behind this decision, which massively oversimplifies the issues around suicidal thoughts, feelings and actions”.

He added: “Although men account for around three-quarters of all suicides, this doesn’t tell the whole story as attempted suicides are not taken into account.

“There is still a huge lack of understanding within the welfare system around mental health and we want to see greater expertise on mental health and the impact it can have on somebody’s ability to work.”

The DWP said the guidance is included in a handbook given to health professionals who assess sick and disabled people for ESA and should not be regarded as “hard and fast rules”.

They added: “In the subject areas covered by the guidance there are some differences between men and women – for example, men have higher suicide rates than women – and the way the guidance is written is designed to take that into account.”

Source – Welfare Weekly, 06 Apr 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/fit-for-work-tests-discriminate-against-women/

Man took knife to stab judge after his benefits were stopped

A mental health patient took a knife to a benefits tribunal so he could stab a judge at the hearing after his payments were stopped.

Kenneth Nicholson said he planned to carry out the attack so he could get locked up.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 49-year-old confessed he was armed when he met his psychiatric nurse outside South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in South Shields just before the hearing last April.

Prosecutor Jolyon Perks told the court:

“On the day of the tribunal, judges became aware of the fact there had been prior notification from the community psychiatric nurse that this defendant harboured an intention to take a knife to the tribunal.

 “He wished, as he was later to explain, to threaten or stab one of the tribunal judges.”

The court heard that one of the judging panel has since been left living in fear.

Mr Perks added;

“She says she was extremely frightened, worried that the defendant might be in a position to find out where she lives. She has an ongoing fear for her safety and that of her family.”

> I wonder how she felt before, making decisions that could drive people to desperate measures ? Perhaps she has a better understanding of the consequences her actions might have.

The court heard Nicholson had been receiving benefit payments after an incident at work almost 20 years ago resulted in mental health problems.

 

His payments were stopped after a new doctor concluded his mental state may not be linked to the industrial accident.

His case had been listed for an appeal hearing against the decision to stop the benefits, which was ultimately successful.

Nicholson, of no fixed address, admitted possession of a knife.

Recorder Andrew Baker told him:

“You had formed an intention, deluded and resulting from your mental condition, to use the knife on a member of the tribunal if you had the chance to do so.

“The thought process being it would get you locked up and you might be in a position to get legal representation.

“The fact that you were prepared to at least approach a court room of this country with an intention to do harm with a bladed weapon makes this a particularly serious case.”

The judge gave Nicholson a 20-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months, with mental health treatment requirements.

He was warned by the judge:

“You are a risk that can be managed in the community but I hope you understand you must treat this as a, literally, once in a lifetime opportunity for you.”

Graeme Cook, defending, said Nicholson gave the weapon to his health worker as soon as he was asked.

Mr Cook said:

“He would not have got through the security anyway, but he handed it over straight away.”

This is YOUR money people!

The lovely wibbly wobbly old lady

It’s surprising what you can find on the Gov.uk website isn’t it?
This is the latest offering of the unholy trinity of George Osborne, David Cameron and that all round good egg Ian Duncan Smith.
Some of you who know me will be aware that I am a qualified nurse.
During my training I was seconded to work in a psychiatric hospital.Unlike George, David and Ian, I learnt first hand that mental health is a complex issue.
Consultant psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses know that the issue is complex.And yet, just like the work capability assessment, the DWP are once again riding roughshod over highly trained people in the psychiatric field.
How dare they quite frankly … How dare they think that they know better than those who are qualified in mental health issues.
They are now bidding for contracts using taxpayers money to bring in online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
You can read a…

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Mentally Ill Benefit Claimants Could Be Offered Treatment At Jobcentres

People on benefits who suffer from mental health conditions could be offered treatment at jobcentres, it has been announced.

Up to 40,000 people could benefit from access to a mental health treatment course in jobcentres, costing £25 million over the next three years.

The scheme will provide access to treatments such as talking therapy and online support in jobcentres, with the aim of helping more people with mental health conditions into work.

Mental health specialists will be based at 350 jobcentres across England to provide psychological treatment to mentally ill benefit claimants. Evidence suggests that offering onsite support could improve the work prospects for unemployed people with mental health issues.

The new scheme follows recommendations made by the Mental Health Task Force, established by the Liberal Democrats. The task force explored ways the government could improve the support available for people with mental health conditions.

The Liberal Democrats say they will put equality for people with mental health problems on the front page of their manifesto.

An additional £8bn a year funding will assist the NHS in delivering better care for people with mental health problems.

Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“I’m determined to end the out dated attitudes and tackle the stigma that still surrounds mental health.

“People with mental health problems, who haven’t been able to work, often need support to get back to working life.

“It is vital therefore that we provide treatment as early as possible, rather than letting their condition worsen, lengthening their time away from a job.

“I set up a cross Government taskforce to look at what can and should be done to raise our game on mental health. One of the key recommendations is to help people back into work who have a mental health problem.

“I’m pleased to say that I’ve secured the funding to make this a reality and bring mental health services into the job centre for the very first time.”

> So, are ‘Work coaches’ now going to get another string to their bows and add mental health counselling to all the other things they do badly ?   

I know it says Mental health specialists, but that could just mean a work coach who’s done a half-day course.

Source – Welfare Weekly, 19 Mar 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/mentally-ill-benefit-claimants-could-be-offered-treatment-at-jobcentres/

Newcastle residents ‘going hungry to pay bedroom tax’

Families in Newcastle are going hungry just so they can hang onto their homes following the introduction of the bedroom tax, a report has said.

Research released by Newcastle University reveals communities are being ripped apart by the tax, which has left people in the region feeling “hopeless”.

Many are finding it almost impossible to manage ever-decreasing incomes, with many spiralling into debt and rent arrears in order to afford bare essentials such as food.

Tyneside, where the research was carried out, is disproportionately affected by the bedroom tax with some 50,000 households estimated to be ‘under-occupying’.

Social housing provider Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) reported last year that 66% of people affected by the bedroom tax were in rent arrears.

Residents were finding it increasingly difficult to buy simple, basic foodstuffs and in some extreme cases, cutting down to just one meal a day, or going to bed early to evade hunger and keep warm – a pattern more prevalent among parents to ensure their children were properly fed.

The University research – A qualitative study of the impact of the UK ‘bedroom tax’ – looks at the effects of the tax on the area.

It followed people living in Walker in Newcastle, which is in the top 10% most deprived areas of the UK, where around 650 homes are affected by the bedroom tax.

Dr Suzanne Moffatt, who was involved in the research, said:

“The bedroom tax reduces a home to simply bricks and mortar.

“However, these are homes that people invest in over time, places of safety within communities that offer friendship and support.

“As a consequence, many of those we interviewed elected to pay the tax in order to stay in their homes, resulting in cutting back on essentials such as food and heat to do so.

“Rather than improve housing stock efficiency and save tax payers money, the effect of the bedroom tax in the North East is likely to make the distribution of social housing less efficient.”

 

Dr Moffatt says the new study undermines Government claims that implementing the ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’ in April 2013 would not have a detrimental impact on people’s health and well-being.

She added:

“Monumental effort was put in by people to simply ‘survive’. Their accounts powerfully demonstrate how loss of income as a result of the bedroom tax has a detrimental effect on mental health, with many saying it had left them feeling ‘hopeless’.”

Researchers within Newcastle University’s Institute of Health and Society also looked at the YHN pilot scheme set up in help people in response to the introduction of the tax.

Neil Scott, director of Tenancy Services, said:

“We encouraged residents to enrol onto training courses. For those that took part, it was highly beneficial, with a small number of mainly short-term jobs created within our organisation.”

The pilot ran for seven months from September 2013 to April 2014 and included budgeting and housing advice, with a focus on testing the Government’s claims that work pays by supporting residents who were farthest from the labour market to gain employment.

Dr Moffatt added:

“Although this pilot was fantastic for those involved, one person working over seven months can only achieve so much.

“At a time when local authority budgets are being increasingly tightened, it is always going to be difficult to fund interventions of this kind.

“These people are not languishing around on benefits by any means – they face many complex barriers to employment such the poor state of the local labour market, as well as mental or physical health issues and lack of qualifications.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 Mar 2015

Hartlepool families’ debts will top £10m this year as people struggle to cope

Struggling Hartlepool families will see their debts top £10million this year, a charity has predicted.

Bosses at Hartlepool Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) say they are handling 120 new enquiries a week.

The news comes after the town was identified as one of the three worst areas in the region for people facing the threat of eviction.

Bureau manager Joe Michna said the year had seen a sharp rise in the number of people asking for help after relaunching their telephone advice service, out of action for 18 months.

“We have seen a big increase in the number of local residents seeking advice and assistance with both debt and welfare benefit issues,” he said.

“The bureau has simply never been busier.”

Between April 2013 and April 2014, the bureau gave advice and assistance to residents with total combined debts of more than £8million.

Although final figures for the present financial year have not yet been collated, bosses say they expect the total to rise to more than £10million.

The problems facing Hartlepool families were highlighted in December, when the town was identified as an eviction hot-spot, with one in every 104 homes at risk of repossession.

Hartlepool had the third worst rate in the North East, behind only South Tyneside and Newcastle, according to statistics published by homeless charity Shelter.

The average level of personal debt among CAB clients is between £25,000 and £30,000, excluding mortgage liabilities, and particular problems include rent and mortgage arrears, credit card debts, personal and pay day loans and overdrafts.

We are running an innovative Mental Health Advice and Advocacy Service which is very much in demand and has given advice and assistance to 250 people who have some form of mental health condition”, said Mr Michna.

We could not provide our service without the help of our key funding bodies and we say a special thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, the Money Advice Service, the Northern Rock Foundation and the Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group for their financial support.”

Anyone who wants financial support and advice can call into the bureau in Park Road between 9.30am and 3pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Telephone advice is available on 01429 408 401 between 9.30am and 3pm on Tuesday and Thursday and the bureau can be contacted via e-mail on enquiries@hartlepool.cabnet.org.uk

or through the website http://www.hartlepool-cab.co.uk

Source – Hartlepool Mail,  27 Feb 2015

Cuts have hit the North much harder than the South, study shows

Cuts have hit the region’s town halls nine times harder than wealthy parts of the South, a new analysis shows – despite the North facing much higher care bills.

The study highlights the areas where people suffer most from poor physical and mental health, disability and early death, imposing huge extra costs on local councils.

The worst-hit fifth of 325 authorities includes no fewer than ten North-East areas, a list headed by Middlesbrough which is ranked fourth for “health deprivation and disability”.

Not far behind are Newcastle (13th), Hartlepool (14th), Gateshead (17th), Darlington (20th), Redcar and Cleveland (21st), Sunderland (25th) and County Durham (28th), followed by Stockton-on-Tees (51st) and South Tyneside (65th).

On average, those ten councils have lost £213.04 of their overall ‘spending power’ for every resident since 2010, according to finance chiefs at Newcastle City Council.

Yet, the average loss in the ten areas with the fewest sick and disabled people, and much lower care costs, is calculated at just £23.19 per head – more than nine times less.

Incredibly, spending power has actually risen at one authority, Elmbridge, in Surrey (up £8.14 per head) – while it has plummeted in Middlesbrough (down £289.02).

The gulf is seen as crucial because social care is the biggest financial burden for cash-strapped councils, which are now also responsible for public health.

Recently, the charity Age UK warned that older people have been left “high and dry” by council cutbacks to help with washing and dressing, to day care places and meals on wheels services.

Hilary Benn, Labour’s local government spokesman, condemned the much-bigger cuts in areas with the biggest ill-health and disability burdens as “deeply irresponsible and unfair”.

 And he said:
“The A&E crisis in our NHS, driven in part by insufficient social care provision where it is needed, shows that the Tories can’t be trusted with vitally important health and social care services.”

Councils hit by the biggest cuts are already known to have slashed spending on adult social care by 12.7 per cent on average – against just 1.2 per cent in more protected authorities.

 But Kris Hopkins, the local government minister, said
“We have been fair to all parts of the country – rural and urban, shire and city, north and south, with deprived areas continuing to receive the highest government grants.”

Labour has promised a new “fairer formula” for distributing local authority grants, but has yet to give details, or say when this would be introduced.

The ‘spending power’ measure bundles together grants, council tax, business rates and the New Homes Bonus, but is widely criticised for disguising the true scale of the pain.

Newcastle’s finance department calculated the changes since the 2010 general election, after the Government refused to produce official figures.

Source –  Northern Echo,  14 Feb 2015

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