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.
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.