Blog John, Mental Health

Austerity and Mental Health. (John)

Hugh Jackson– Tory councillor in North Tyneside  – suggested euthanasia was a good way to reduce the costs of looking after disabled children.

“Hang Mandela.” campaign slogan of the Federation of Conservative Students during the 1980s, during which time its chairman was John Bercow, now Speaker of the House of Commons.

Iain Duncan Smith – Tory Work and Pensions Secretary – quoted the Nazi slogan above the gates of Auschwitz Arbeit Mach Frei (work makes free) when he said about the government’s workfare programme that “work actually helps free people.”

Iain Duncan Smith again – this time on how ‘lazy’ disabled workers are: “Is it a kindness to stick people in some factory where they are not doing any work at all? Just making cups of coffee?”

“I’m also very much aware that it is you who brought democracy to Chile, you set up a constitution suitable for democracy, you put it into effect, elections were held, and then, in accordance with the result, you stepped down.“Margaret Thatcher, speaking to Pinochet, 1999 

Just a few quotes from over the years of those compassionate Conservatives. I thought I’d start this blog with just a few examples (from many potentials) of the general mindset of such people. Just to give you a notion of where I’m headed…

A recent landmark study has just linked Tory Austerity to 120’000 deaths. The paper identified that mortality rates in the UK had declined steadily from 2001 to 2010, but this reversed sharply with the death rate growing again after austerity came in. The Government has recently pledged an extra 2 billion for social care. But there has been 4.6 billion in cuts. The study, published in BMJ Open today, estimated that to return death rates to their pre-2010 levels spending would need to increase by £25.3bn.

So the question for this blog is…Does all of this impact on our mental health? You’re damned right it does.

A spokesperson for Psychologists Against Austerity said: “Addressing mental health is not just about ensuring more ‘treatment’ is available and stigma is reduced, although they are important. It is fundamentally also about the evidence that ideological economic policies, like the continued austerity programme, have hit the most vulnerable the hardest and have been toxic for mental health.”

Iain Duncan Smith’s tougher fit-to-work tests for sick and disabled people coincided with 590 “additional” suicides, 279,000 cases of mental illness and 725,000 more prescriptions for antidepressants – and one mental health charity found that 21 per cent of their patients had experienced suicidal thoughts due to the stress of the Work Capability Assessments.

“100 people a day with a mental health diagnosis are sanctioned by the DWP,” added Mr Greene of DPAC. “These people are going without food, without heat, without energy in their homes. [Ms May’s speech] is words upon air. It means nothing.”

Theresa May can talk all day about reducing stigma and increasing awareness but if your core policies target the most vulnerable among us, deliberately making life unlivable for many, then she might as well cut out the middleman and take to the streets with gun in hand. When you’ve spent the best part of a decade changing social attitudes towards the vulnerable and disabled by having them viewed as undeserving scroungers and shirkers, when your policies make lives unbearable to live, then there is no coincidence that suicide rates have almost doubled under Conservative Government. This is the reality of the Conservative governments achievements in the realm of mental health. I imagine that, behind closed doors, when they see such deplorable figures they will say, “Well it’s nice to see people mucking in….after all, we’re all in it together.”

 

 

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