"Without support it can be difficult to make a full recovery and return to employment" says RCPsych President

Statement / comment
29 April 2024

The President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has responded to the Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride’s comments on plans to reform the disability benefits system, in the media today.

Dr Lade Smith CBE, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“We are deeply concerned about the stark rise in the number of people experiencing mental illness and the long-term impact this will have on the nation’s health and productivity.

"This increase is driven by serious issues such as poverty, housing and food insecurity and increased loneliness and isolation. These factors are known to put people at greater risk of having a mental illness and were compounded during the pandemic.

“People with mild anxiety or depression alone would not be eligible for Personal Independent Payments (PIP). Only those with conditions which significantly impact their ability to function and have lasted for over a year can receive PIP.

"It can take time to recover from a mental illness and benefits help reduce the risk of people falling into debt and further hardship during this process. Without this support, it can be difficult to make a full recovery and return to employment. 

“We know the right working environment can benefit people’s mental health, and where we do agree with the Work and Pensions Secretary is that people who have anxiety and depression need better and faster access to talking therapies and other forms of professional support. 

"If Government is committed to addressing this crisis, it must tackle the causes of mental illness and ensure people have timely access to the care and treatment they need. People with lived experience and mental health professionals should be listened to during the Government’s consultation on its proposed benefits reforms to better understand the needs of those with mental illness, who are the most marginalised group in our society.

“We welcome the expansion of schemes that provide individuals with tailored support to return to work, such as the Individual Placement and Support service.”

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