Mind Have Made A Controversial Move

Last night on twitter I caught wind of people criticising Mental Health charity Mind. It’s not uncommon for charities to come under fire, they seem to be a scapegoat for attacks that should be aimed at Government and other agencies. I think that much of the time people fail to look at all the facts and details and what actually certain campaigns, decisions and ideas can actually achieve. The reason people are taking aim at Mind at the moment is down to the news that Tom Pollard from the charities Policy and Campaigns team will be seconded to The Department for Work and Pensions taking on the role of a Senior Mental Health Policy Advisor for the UK governmental department which manages the welfare system.

I can talk from experience about the UK’s welfare system, just last year I underwent a Work Capability Assessment by Maximus on behalf of DWP after applying for Employment Support Allowance due to being made unemployed due to ongoing Mental Illness. It was an extremely distressing experience to be summoned for the assessment then undergo it before waiting for the decision. In my case my support was stopped, I appealed and supplied a range of further evidence from health professionals however my attempt was refused. What followed was months of no income at all, luckily I stay with family at the moment so I was safe, but it was still degrading and I forced myself into work in May of this year where I lasted just 4 days before ending up in A&E which resulted in 4 months off work before my contract was terminated because I simply am not fit for work which was echoed by doctors and occupational health. The nurse who failed to tell me her name at the time of assessment had zero experience in Mental Health and the department seems to be very unaware of the problems those

What followed was months of no income at all, luckily I stay with family at the moment so I was safe, but it was still degrading and I forced myself into work in May of this year where I lasted just 4 days before ending up in A&E which resulted in 4 months off work before my contract was terminated because I simply am not fit for work which was echoed by doctors and occupational health. The nurse who failed to tell me her name at the time of assessment had zero experience in Mental Health and the department seems to be very unaware of the problems those suffering from mental illness deal with day to day. I would argue that the appointment of  Tom from Mind to the DWP is a massive success. We will now have someone who is passionate and knowledgeable on the subject of Mental Health. Someone is infiltrating the most infuriating department we have to deal with on a daily basis to fight our corner. To

I would argue that the appointment of  Tom from Mind to the DWP is a massive success. We will now have someone who is passionate and knowledgeable on the subject of Mental Health. Someone is infiltrating the most infuriating department we have to deal with on a daily basis to fight our corner. To me, that is a hugely positive thing which will hopefully ensure better recognition and policy on mental health. It’s not going to mean that DWP is going to become a huge overnight dream to encounter, this is a conservative government after all. But at least there is going to be some strong influence from one of the biggest mental health charities in the UK. It’s also important to note that Mind has often and will continue to challenge and criticise DWP on mental health related issues.

I think people fail to recognise that mental health charities are on our side. Mind, Rethink, Time To Change, Sane, Samaritans, Anxiety UK, Young Minds and many more do huge amounts of work in their own areas to offer huge support including legal advice, someone to talk to, campaigning, information and tools as well as opportunities as so much more. I often go to my local branch of Mind and take advantage of the free courses which aid my recovery and help me build my confidence up, I’ve talked to Samaritans on many occasions and I’ve often referred to the information they all provide, especially Young Mind’s Head Meds website which provides facts about medications.

I’m not saying charities shouldn’t be challenged or held accountable, but I do think they are on our side and provide endless services for free to those in need be it ourselves, our families or our friends which is so valuable when vulnerable and let down by the government for any number of reasons be it healthcare, benefits or housing. I think that’s important to bare in mind, if you feel something isn’t quite right, challenge constructively and don’t condemn without the most serious reasoning.

 

© 2017 James Woods