Today is the Transforming Mental Health Conference in London
One of the Keynote speakers at the “Transforming Mental Health Conference” is Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind and Chair of the Mental Health Taskforce. This is the same Paul Farmer who lied to us when he told us that Mind would not be taking any contracts from the DWP. And the same Paul Farmer who thought it was OK to second his policy chief at Mind, Tom Pollard to the DWP, to help them find new and creative ways to bully people in mental distress into low paid insecure and exploitative work.
And it is the same Paul Farmer who, as Chair of the Mental Health Taskforce released the “Five Year Forward View for Mental Health” report advocating the “Work Cure” enabling the DWP Policy that will attempt to place faux-‘therapists’ in Jobcentres to brainwash claimants into some sort of happy clappy state of mind, that subsumes their whole existence into the sole purpose of finding a soul destroying, insecure, exploitative job, and thus saving the government a few more pounds to spend on bombing other countries, vanity projects or tax cuts for people like Paul Farmer.
Never mind the fear, harm and suicides that this “work cure” rubbish is causing, Farmer is clearly onto a good thing pushing the “Work Cure”.
So that’s why MHRN and Allies are out in front of the conference handing out this leaflet to delegates as they go in.
8 December 2016
Dear ‘Transforming Mental Health’ Delegate,
Mind hopes to become a specialist Jobcentre as
Paul Farmer peddles the Work Cure lie through his Mental Health Taskforce
Work is a part of life that most of us have participated in and many have benefited from. Since the National Insurance Act of 1946 people who are unable to work for health reasons have received an income. We have all paid into this state run insurance scheme; we still do.
The Tory government is dismantling the welfare state, but then you know that, don’t you? People with mental health problems who are dependent on disability benefits have been thrown into turmoil. Some have killed themselves, many have become homeless or had to use food banks. Everyone who depends on these benefits lives in a constant state of fear, anxiety and insecurity.
The withdrawal of welfare benefits from disabled people was initially justified on the grounds that most claimants were ‘swinging the lead’ even though, according to the government’s own figures, benefit fraud was, at most, only 0.7%.
After six and a half years of cruel benefit cuts, the government has cut through flesh and muscle and has reached bone. No one now believes the benefit fraud lie so the government has constructed a new lie: work will cure us or, to put it another way, ‘Arbeit macht frei’. This lie was ratified by the Mental Health Taskforce and is based on biased, 10 year old evidence provided by the DWP and researched by the insurance company, Unum, who has obvious vested interests in the dismantling of the welfare state.
People with the most severe mental health problems can now expect to be subjected to pressure to return to work. We all know that work does not cure such problems and that even if it did, there are not enough jobs to go round. But do you care that it could possibly kill us?
National Mind is out for itself. In a bid for its own survival and to corner the market in getting people with severe and enduring mental health problems off of benefits, Mind plans to bid for DWP contracts to push this group of people into precarious jobs or endless job searches. This is a soft target now we know that conditionality is set to be applied to receipt of benefits for even those with the most severe problems.
Every service that once provided support for people with mental health problems is fast becoming an extension of the DWP. We don’t need more Jobcentres, they cannot treat our mental distress; we need mental health services that are independent of the political ideology that promotes dismantling the welfare state.
There is no gentle way of bullying people in mental distress into work. Mind says it would ‘only… go on to bid for contracts for local Minds to deliver that align with our values and that do not involve mandating and/or sanctioning people with mental health problems.’ Where has Mind been for the past six years?! Has it heard nothing about the brutality of the benefits system since it has been ‘reformed’? Does Mind care? Is Mind planning to dupe people into looking for work under the pretext of providing mental health care?
Many current benefit claimants have worked in the past and we know what we are able to cope with. Most people with mental health issues tell establishment figures that they want to work. Given the levels of vilification of people who are not working, it would be surprising if they were to say otherwise. However, the majority add that they are not well enough to work but that will not stop the DWP from bullying, sanctioning and harassing them. If we do find work, far from it setting us free, we can expect low paid, insecure jobs with a place in the line to the foodbank. Shockingly, Mind wants a piece of this pie.
Mental Health Resistance Network is committed to making the toxicity of Mind’s plans apparent to everyone who uses Mind services. We will not rest until the name of Mind is known about in the same way as Atos is known, as an abuser of people in mental distress.
Here is our promise. As much as Mind abuses us, we will work towards seeing Paul Farmer sacked and Mind brought to its knees. Just as Mind hopes to leave us open to bullying and harassment, we intend to find ways of sanctioning Mind for its betrayal of people in mental distress.
Mind wants to believe the lies. You might want to believe the lies too. We plan to expose Mind and the lies it peddles.
Mental Health Resistance Network