Disabled activists have welcomed “timely” new research that concludes that the government’s “fitness for work” process has caused a deterioration in many people’s mental health which they have failed to recover from, and has even led to thoughts of suicide.
The research, Mental Health And Unemployment In Scotland, was carried out by academics at Scotland’s Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Napier universities*.
Researchers spoke in-depth to 30 people across Scotland with mental health conditions who had experienced the work capability assessment (WCA) system, as well as staff from advice and advocacy organisations.
They concluded that the assessors, employed by the US outsourcing company Maximus, “do not appear to have appropriate expertise in mental health”.
And they added: “The WCA experience for many, caused a deterioration in people’s mental health which individuals did not recover from.
“In the worst cases, the WCA experience led to thoughts of suicide.”
Professor Abigail Marks, one of the report’s authors, said their research showed that WCAs were “fundamentally discriminatory to people with mental health conditions”.
The research emerged as disabled people’s organisations gave evidence this week to the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities about the UK government’s failure to implement the UN disability convention.