Community Mental Health Nurse spends 50% of her time on benefit problems

During the conversation with my CMHN the talk got around to benefit cuts the nurse said to me she now spends 50% of her time with patients on their benefit problems…..half of her time as a mental health nurse is spent on them. 

She said it makes her angry that people in mental distress are subjected to the cruel punitive benefits regime of constant assessments, the threat of sanctions and asked do you have an active suicide plan and would you carry it out?

I told her about that if any assessor asked me that question – do I have an active suicide plan, why have I not carried it out, that it could be a huge trigger for me going home and acting on that plan and my name becoming another name on a ever increasing list of people in mental distress and disabled people who are no longer with us today as a result of the cuts to benefits, community services and social care and NHS healthcare cuts. 

She paled significantly when I told her that very question could be a massive trigger for me, and i could well act on that question. For thousands of people going through these punitive assessments the WCA and PIP that is a question that they are asked. She was horrified when I told her that and appalled by it. I told her I was more often than not forcing myself to leave the house and have been since summer last year because I am frightened of being attacked by members of the public on the street and on public transport because people in mental distress and disabled people are seen as second class citizens by great swathes of society because of the right wing propaganda calling us scroungers, fraudsters etc on a daily basis over the past 7 years. 

I told her that I had been subjected to verbal abuse in the street, and threatened with physical violence – my only crime in their eyes having a disability and being alive and a burden to the UK. Yes, I have had that by members of the public, I am a burden to society and the state and I should be put down, or, just go and kill myself because no one would give a shit. I know that there are thousands of disabled people who endure that on a daily basis and its now part of daily life for us, but it should not be. 

We are judged by the DWP, ATOS, CAPITA, Social Services, NHS Doctors and Nurses, the school system, public transport system, pretty much everyone – do you need the support, if so, prove it, backing up every claim for what little support is available with reams of letters, care plans if you have them, and the anxious wait to see if you will get that support and chances are these days probably not. 

The Government plays with our lives like we are gambling counters on a table, change the rules here, change the guidelines here, don’t tell anyone and make it even more difficult to get the support we as disabled people need.

We live in fear, fear of tomorrow, fear of what the future will bring if anything, and knowing this current tory government it will be even more excluding, more of our rights taken away and eroded making living life even more difficult. 

All of us want only one thing, we just wish this government would piss off and do one and leave us all alone. Life is incredibly difficult enough living with a disability and deep pyschological distress. We just want to live our lives and not be asked questions like have you got an active suicide plan and why have you not acted on it. 

I told my mum that if anything happens to me after a question asked like that to me at an assessment that she was to hold the fuckers in the government responsible and made sure the truth of these brutal cuts were exposed and what the tragic human cost and human rights violations these ideological policies were doing to people like me. 

It is not often my mum is left with no words she is more blunt than me, but after I said that to her during my appointment she was stunned into silence and was in tears. 

As I said to my nurse and to my mum, we are in a fight for the right to live, for the right to exist. That is the truth of the battle with the government right there.

Paula Peters