Employment Support Allowance and psychological pressure

Guest post by Lisa Jones

Of course there is a psychological aspect to everything. And the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is no exception.

Job Centre Plus

When I helped my son fill in the Work Capability Assessment form the only point I wanted him to make was that as he has paranoid schizophrenia – his level of functioning swings about alarmingly according to his state of mind. He can achieve things when he feels relaxed and confident that immediately become impossible when he is stressed.

He feels under attack very easily and the WCA assessment process would be threatening to him as would the work program. He would probably become far more ill and the small amount he now achieves would be threatened.

While paranoid schizophrenia is an illness which demonstrates this adverse
response to bullying and threats in text book fashion – there are shades of this reaction in most sick and disabled people. I am sure some people respond positively to the school of hard knocks and buck up and pick up their beds and walk because never say never – there is always someone – but in my experience most people with an illness or a disability respond to stress by getting worse.

It is therefore essential that control of what they can and can’t do is left to them to decide – not someone else who has not walked in their shoes. Until the WRAG respects this it is not a safe place for sick and disabled people and is going to cause a lot of them to become more ill.

A campaigner with severe mental health issues told me –

the community can best help us by helping us keep as well as we can. That is the best way for us to achieve our aims.

The bullying in the WRAG goes about things in completely the opposite way. It stresses people and makes them more ill and is completely counterproductive.

Disabled people, those with serious illness, need help and support, not threats, sanctions and time limits.



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5 Responses to “Employment Support Allowance and psychological pressure”

  1. paul8ar Says:

    well said. this should be on the news. thank you. i’ve nicked it! ♥

  2. Employment Support Allowance and psychological pressure « paul8ar Says:

    […] Employment Support Allowance and psychological pressure. […]

  3. vnc2c Says:

    Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group demonstrated outside Kilburn Jobcentre on Monday 3 December against imposition of new and harsher sanctions against ESA WRAG claimants from that day.

    A dedicated leaflet proclaimed what we were opposing, and we had placards asking:

    Though some of us were ‘under the weather’, that action in the rain was better for our health than lying back coughing our guts up while listening to George Osborne saying that more cuts in benefit payments would help this nation back to fiscal health.


    Alan ‘Raymondo’ Wheatley
    Secretary of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

  4. Jaki Says:

    Thanks for this – it’s what I and countless others have been trying to say for years. I suffer with anxiety and phobias and bullying does not work. Fear incapacitates. I can only do more from a place of support, security (which of course includes financial) and encouragement.

  5. Nick White Says:

    I Couldn’t agree more;
    I am 63 years old and currently being ‘assessed’ by ATOS – I suffer with Parkinson’s, OsteoArthritis and have recurring bouts of severe (suicidal) depression.
    The only way I can cope is to avoid all pressure at any cost – I am no longer able to work, but know I am almost bound to be judged ‘fit for work’ by ATOS.
    I fully believe that this will be the end for me and I will just become part of the ever rising suicide statistics; the only thing that keeps me going at the moment is my dogs.
    Even if by some miracle I survive this – next year it all happens again with the abolition of DLA, just prior to my 65th birthday! – I see no hope.

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