Welfare reforms “impacting mental health”, says charity

98 per cent say their mental health has suffered

Tom Freeman wrote for Holyrood in 14/04/2014:

All but one in fifty mental health service users in receipt of benefits have suffered increased stress and anxiety as a result of welfare reforms, a new report has revealed.

According to ‘Worried Sick’, published by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), 98 per cent faced such effects amid changes being pursued by the Coalition government.

Worried Sick: Experiences of Poverty and Mental Health across Scotland - SAMH

Conducted in November and December, the survey also found that 78 per cent saw their income fall, while 57 per cent have been affected by the Bedroom Tax.

As well as additional mental health and emotional help, there were six incidents in which SAMH staff had to carry out suicide interventions directly related to welfare reform issues.

Billy Watson, chief executive of SAMH, said: “Recent welfare reforms concern us, as many people with mental health problems are simply too unwell to work, leaving them reliant on welfare support while they recover.

“Eighty per cent of SAMH service staff have said they are providing increasing levels of mental health and emotional support, including suicide interventions, as a result of the impact of these welfare reforms.”

One respondent to the survey from Glasgow said: “If you’re no feeding yourself properly, you start to get restless. It’s about energy. Depression is like you’re in a swimming pool and all your emotions and all your feelings are a beach ball and you’re pushing it down.”

The findings follow evidence given at the Scottish Parliament by GPs working in the most deprived areas of the country who said mental health issues are closely associated with the physical ill health and social problems that affect many people in such areas.

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