Benefits system ‘fails’ people with mental health issues

Excessive red tape in the benefits system is causing “unnecessary” distress for people living with mental health issues, a report argues.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 5:00 am
The issue can cause people to miss out on the help to which they are entitled

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, which was set up by consumer champion Martin Lewis, said overly complicated and bureaucratic processes in the benefits system are causing significant psychological distress for people already dealing with their mental health.

The Institute, whose report is called The Benefits Assault Course, pointed to figures showing nearly half (47%) of working age people receiving out-of-work benefits in England have a common mental health problem such as depression and anxiety.

It said people in this position can struggle to navigate the benefits system because of symptoms such as reduced concentration, increased impulsiveness and memory problems.

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Helen Undy, chief executive of Money and Mental Health, said: “Accessing the benefits system can be a difficult task for anyone, but if you’re struggling with your mental health it can feel almost impossible.

“The obstacles that people with mental health problems face at every stage of the system not only cause unnecessary distress, they’re also resulting in people missing out on crucial support they are entitled to, or falling out of the system entirely.

“This urgently needs to change, as it’s ruining lives.”

She continued: “Making the right changes now could make a huge difference to the millions of people across the country with mental health problems trying to navigate the benefits system.”

The charity also carried out a survey of more than 450 people with mental health issues who receive benefits.