Jobcentre mental health care, useless ministers and doughnuts

21_march_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,035

Saturday 21 March 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

The BBC reported today that Mental health trusts in England have seen their budgets fall by more than 8% in real terms under your government. Research by BBC News and the online journal Community Care reveals that the cuts amount to almost £600 million.

Meanwhile it has been announced that people with mental health problems could be offered treatment at Jobcentres at a cost of £25 million over the next three years ‘with the aim of helping more people with mental health conditions into work’.

Although it is not specified what kind of help will be made available in Jobcentres it is probably fair to assume it will be six weekly sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), that being the cheapest, quick fix, option available. Generosity to the poor not being your strongest point.

Where to start? I guess the obvious place is that cutting funding for mental health care by £600 million is a clear indication of how just important this issue is, in real terms, to you and your government but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Supposing that the plan is to offer CBT, it will have little or no effect on long term mental health conditions, it is designed to help with current problems, rather than focusing on issues from the past. Inappropriate use of CBT on those with long term issues may well cause greater distress because it is simply the wrong tool for the job. Applied indiscriminately CBT could lead to further dismay and distress in those already living very fragile existences.

Therapy is a delicate process and, as any half decent therapist would tell you, therapy does not begin until the client engages with the therapist and the therapeutic process. It can take a great deal of time establishing trust and engagement with therapy and the therapist, for some this can take years and there is no way to circumvent that therapy must progress at the clients pace.

Which leads to probably the greatest issue involved here. If the therapist has an agenda other than the well being of the client, therapy has little chance of even getting off the ground. Having therapy in Jobcentres is really a hiding to nowhere unless the client has specified that s/he wants that help in order to get into the job market. Imposing that agenda via the DWP, the Jobcentre, its staff and the therapist is a virtual guarantee that the therapy will go nowhere.

The problem here is that having MPs with no training, education, qualifications or talent for the ministerial posts they occupy, Chris Grayling in justice and Iain Duncan Smith in the DWP as prime examples, we’d all be a lot safer if these posts were occupied by doughnuts. As it is both Justice and the DWP are rolling disasters because the posts are being held by politicians with the intelligence of doughnuts who pursue extreme right wing policies like freshly cooked doughnuts rolled in sugar except they are more toxic by far.

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