Fri 26th June - Demonstration against IAPT in job centres

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Fri 26th June - Demonstration against IAPT in job centres

Post by Contrarian » Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:52 am

Campaign against introduction of psychological therapies into Job Centres




* A pilot project to bring CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) into Job Centres starts at Streatham Job Centre Plus in June 2015.

* In the same month, Lambeth “Living Well Hub” for Community Mental Health Services is due to open in the same building.

*Mental Health Resistance Network is unhappy with these developments which are part of the government’s brutal “back to work” agenda.

*Mental Health Resistance Network has called a demonstration which will march on Streatham Job Centre on Friday 26th June.

*Mental Health Resistance Network is circulating an open letter to relevant individuals, charities and professional organisations stating our position and asking them to join us in our condemnation for these developments.

The text of the open letter is as follows:

Mental Health Resistance Network is organising a demonstration to take place at Streatham Job Centre Plus on Friday 26th June 2015, protesting against the opening there of Lambeth’s principal community mental health centre (“Living Well Network Hub”) the following Monday.

Streatham Job Centre also, from June 2015, hosts the first pilot of the DWP’s scheme to provide psychological therapies – specifically Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – at Job Centres for people suspected of having mental health problems. This is the first of ten pilot schemes in advance of a national project planned to begin in January 2016.

We are calling on you/ your organisation to state your position on these issues, and we hope join us in our condemnation of these developments.

As mental health service users, we are extremely unhappy with these developments. We deplore the government’s brutal “back to work” agenda, which is a front for cutting disabled welfare benefits for the most vulnerable. Mental health service users are understandably terrified of Job Centres and the threat of losing their benefits through Sanctions, or degrading and unfit-for-purpose Work Capability Assessments. With the main point of access to Community Mental Health services in Lambeth on the 3rd floor of a Job Centre, many of us will feel too frightened to ask for the help and services we need, and lose contact with services altogether.

Mental health service users are already reporting higher levels of fear, anxiety and anguish as a result of the increasingly difficult welfare benefits system, which is linked to an increasing rate of suicides. This situation will be exacerbated by the new developments.

We should not be put under pressure to look for work unless we feel capable. The competitive, profit-driven and exploitative nature of the modern workplace is not suitable for people whose mental health is fragile. But the location of the Network Hub at Streatham Job Centre put us under such pressure if we try to use mental health services.

Experts agree that CBT does not work for everyone; that psychological therapies are ineffective if they are forced on people; and that they need to take place in safe, unthreatening environments. We do not think making people have CBT at Job Centres will make anyone magically “fit for work.” We are concerned that people will be Sanctioned (i.e. have their benefits stopped) if they do not co-operate with this “therapy” either out of principle or because they are not well enough. “BACK TO WORK THERAPY” IS NO THERAPY AT ALL!

Additionally, we are concerned that this amounts to an extension of the coercive powers of the 1983 Mental Health Act amended 2007. Whereas at present people can only be forced into “treatment” under in-patient Sections of this Act or by Community Treatment Orders, making welfare benefits and by extension housing conditional on agreeing to psychological treatment broadens the principle of compulsion.

We condemn the involvement of IAPTS in this attempt to make people undergo “therapy” at Job Centres, which we believe goes against professional ethics. We are also unhappy that psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses, social workers and other mental health professionals are also expected to work at Streatham Job Centre, again compromising their professional ethics, and we call on individual staff and collective agencies representing them to publicly oppose this development.

For more information contact:

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Re: Fri 26th June - Demonstration against IAPT in job centre

Post by Contrarian » Thu Jun 25, 2015 6:44 pm

Might spot this banner at tomorrow's demo:


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Re: Fri 26th June - Demonstration against IAPT in job centre

Post by sparklepants » Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:46 am

I hope this gets a good turnout!

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Re: Fri 26th June - Demonstration against IAPT in job centre

Post by Contrarian » Fri Jun 26, 2015 1:47 pm

On my way to the protest now, hope others will join.

Just wanted to say that the story has been picked up by the national press:

Guardian Story - ... -streatham

Mental health workers and their clients are marching on a jobcentre in south-west London in protest at a scheme they say frames unemployment as a psychological disorder.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced in March that Streatham’s jobcentre would be the first to have therapists giving mental health support to help unemployed people back into work.

The DWP has now said that announcement was a mistake. But by coincidence, next week Lambeth council will open a £1.9m mental health clinic in the same building.

Mental health workers and service users, furious at what they see as an attempt to embed psychological treatment in a back-to-work agenda, were to go ahead with their demonstration anyway.

They said they regarded Lambeth’s decision to locate the borough’s main community mental health centre in the same building as the jobcentre as being in the spirit of the plan to give psychological treatment to the unemployed.

Anger has been growing since the March budget announced a scheme to bring counsellors into jobcentres to offer “integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions”.

Under the plan, therapists from the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme would support jobcentre staff to assess and treat claimants, who may be referred to online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses.

According to a recent DWP reply to a Freedom of Information request, the therapists would provide “Nice [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence]-approved and evidence-based psychological therapies to treat people with depression and anxiety disorders”.

The letter from the DWP went on: “Given that confidential space to deliver therapy is available in Jobcentre Plus premises, IAPT services will be conducting assessments and face-to-face therapy sessions in jobcentres, in the same way that they are provided in other community settings.

“Supported online CBT will be conducted through computers, via instant messaging and video communication tools, and via telephone.”

Advocates point to the correlation between poverty and mental health problems and say helping people back to work could aid their recoveries. Offering therapy to people on benefits could help them deal with the worst psychological effects of joblessness, they say.

But critics say existing back-to-work policies, such as workfare, which forces people to work for their benefits, place people under psychological pressure, making jobcentres inappropriate venues for mental health treatment. Moreover, they are concerned that in an environment where there are few good jobs, individuals’ unemployment will be blamed on their own attitude.

The DWP has said claimants would not be sanctioned for refusing psychological treatment. But the Tory manifesto threatened benefit cuts for ill people who refused medical treatment that could help them back to work. In a hustings, Mark Harper, the minister for disabled people, suggested people with mental health conditions could be included.

Psychologist groups, including the British Psychological Society and the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, have expressed concern that claimants will be forced into accepting interventions.

In a statement published on Thursday, the BABCP, which runs CBT training in the UK, said it was “against any offer of any treatment (including CBT) based on coercion or associated with unfair or disproportionate inducements”.

This month Prof Jamie Hacker Hughes, president of the BPS, pointed out recent research which presented evidence that claimants had been forced to accept psychological treatment. Researchers from Hubbub and Birkbeck, University of London, found unemployment was being rebranded as a psychological disorder in many advanced economies, with interventions being introduced to promote a positive outlook or leave claimants of welfare to face sanctions.

Dave Harper, a reader in clinical psychology at the University of East London, told the Guardian he believed there was an ideological agenda driving the government’s proposals.

“We are in a recession,” Harper said. “There are not many jobs out there and this is implying that unemployed people are to blame for their situation. It’s shifting the focus away from economic policy and on to the individual.”

Paul Atkinson, a psychotherapist based in Brighton, was sceptical about the DWP’s claims that mental health treatment would not be linked to sanctions. “It’s part of the same project of encouraging people back to work, which has got the whole sanctions culture wrapped around it,” he said.

Not all mental health specialists oppose the scheme. Janet Weisz, chair of the UK Council of Psychotherapists, gave it a cautious approval. “In principle it’s good,” she said. “What we have concerns about is: what does this mean? Does something that’s an option become something more mandatory?”

Weisz said she was writing to the DWP for clarification on how the scheme would work. But she added: “The fact that we are writing to the DWP about how to deliver counselling and psychological services, that’s a concern. What I’m hoping is they will respond and have a dialogue with us.”

Critics said the government’s own pilot study of IAPT in jobcentres showed it was ineffective. The research by the Work Foundation found that of 413 people referred to the pilot scheme in four unnamed locations, 173 refused to take part. Many more dropped out. In the end, just 15 got jobs.

The DWP originally announced in a stakeholder bulletin that IAPT would be rolled out in jobcentres from this summer, beginning in Streatham. A DWP spokeswoman initially denied this, saying websites that had reported it had got it wrong. After being shown news of the scheme’s introduction on websites and online publications by DWP partners, a spokesman told the Guardian the announcement had been made in error.

An NHS spokeswoman said the Lambeth Living Well Hub, the new “front door” to a range of mental health services for patients from the borough, was not linked to the DWP scheme to install therapists in jobcentres.

“The jobcentre building was chosen as the location for the hub as there was free available office space and there was an opportunity to train jobcentre staff to help them work better with people with mental health issues,” a statement said.

Denise McKenna, an activist with the Mental Health Resistance network, one of the groups that called Friday’s demonstration, said she was horrified about effectively having to go to the jobcentre to access mental health treatment.

Cuts to mental health services had resulted in many people with quite serious mental health problems being discharged from their local mental health trusts and left in the care of their GPs, she said. These were the people likely to use the new centre.

“Can you imagine having to go to the jobcentre and talk about very intimate, personal things then having to leave through the office in floods of tears?” she asked.

Responding to the wider plans to embed mental health treatment in jobcentres, she added: “I can see someone at the jobcentre ending up very seriously injured by someone with mental health problems. God forbid it should ever happen, but it’s on the cards.”

Posts: 95
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Re: Fri 26th June - Demonstration against IAPT in job centre

Post by Contrarian » Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:22 pm

Here we go....


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Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:13 pm

Re: Fri 26th June - Demonstration against IAPT in job centre

Post by Contrarian » Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:25 pm

Question of the day....


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