free psychotherapy for people on low incomes and benefits
Tuesday 5th July at 9 am at the New Savoy Conference
Hallam Conference Centre, 44 Hallam Street, London W1W 6JJ
Central London @ Great Portland Street tube (Map here)
For a decade or more, the Government has been deploying psychotherapy to get people with mental health difficulties off benefits, back to work and mapped into the neoliberal labour market. Since 2010, austerity policies of welfare reform – punitive Work Capability Assessments, benefit cuts, workfare, sanctioning – have intensified government strategies of psycho-compulsion and work cure for welfare claimants. IAPT therapists are being co-located in Jobcentres, DWP mental health advisers and employment coaches in GP surgeries, food banks, schools and libraries.
The big five national organisations representing the professions of counselling, psychotherapy and clinical psychology* have welcomed these policies and the state funding of back-to-work therapy.
As members of the New Savoy Partnership, they have been major players in The New Savoy Conference, an annual jamboree and market stall for state therapies in the NHS. The NSC frequently stages opening addresses by DWP and Health ministers to assert the close relationship between the professional bodies, MH charities and Government mental health and work-cure policies and funding. Hundreds of mental health workers accredited by the psy professional bodies have been hired by the DWP to provide “support into work”. These are jobs that are experienced as deeply unethical by many of the professionals being steered into this kind of work.
In March this year, the Mental Wealth Foundation (see below) wrote to the five professional organisations challenging their support of the government’s use of psychological therapies to put pressure on people with mental health disabilities to get into work. You can read the exchange of letters between us and the professional bodies here.
So far, all but one of these organisations are refusing to speak to us and continue to argue that they have had private reassurances from the DWP that “work cure” therapy will not be mandatory for claimants, and will not involve setting entry into employment as a therapeutic outcome. This claim defies the reality of the DWP’s record of punitive and coercive policies of workfare, Work Capability Assessment and sanctioning and its growing determination through its Work and Health initiatives to prioritise work as the therapy of choice for long-term mental health disability.
* British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies; British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy; British Psychoanalytic Council; British Psychological Society; United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
The Mental Wealth Foundation (MWF) is a broad, inclusive coalition of professional, grassroots, academic and survivor campaigns and movements. We bear collective witness and support collective action in response to the destructive impact of the new paradigm in health, social care, welfare and employment. We oppose the individualisation and medicalisation of the social, political and material causes of hardship and distress, which are increasing as a result of austerity cuts to services and welfare and the unjust shift of responsibility onto people on low incomes and welfare benefits. Our recent conference focused on Welfare Reforms and Mental Health, Resisting the Impact of Sanctions, Assessments and Psychological Coercion.
Currently, seventeen organisations are gathered under the MWF umbrella: Mental Health Resistance Network; Disabled People Against Cuts; Recovery in the Bin; Boycott Workfare; The Survivors Trust; Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy; College of Psychoanalysts; Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility; Psychologists Against Austerity; Free Psychotherapy Network; Psychotherapists and Counsellors Union; Critical Mental Health Nurses’ Network; Social Work Action Network (Mental Health Charter); National Unemployed Workers Combine; Merseyside County Association of Trades Union Councils; Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network; National Health Action Party