Associate director of campaigns for Rethink Mental Illness Jane Harris, who gave evidence to the committee, said: “This report echoes many of the concerns Rethink has been extremely worried about since the reassessment was first announced.
“We agree with the principle that the benefits system needs simplifying, but the way in which it is being done is inhumane and is causing widespread fear and anxiety amongst people with a severe mental illness.
“Over 87% of people with a mental illness surveyed by Rethink said they found their Atos medical assessment stressful and 80% said the test has made their mental health worse. Many of our members and supporters have been in touch to tell us how stressful they are finding the process and some have even said it’s making them feel suicidal.
“Many people tell us they feel extremely apprehensive at the prospect of being assessed by someone who may not have any expertise in mental health. Others tell us the assessors do nothing to put them at ease and often barely take their eyes off the computer screen while they ask them deeply personal questions, leaving them feeling as if they are on a ‘conveyor belt’ rather than being treated as an individual.
“We are therefore pleased that the report calls on the Government to do more to ensure that Atos ‘treats claimants properly’ and ‘produces accurate assessments.’”
For more information please contact Rachel Whitehead, Senior Media Relations Officer for Rethink Mental Illness on 2027 840 3138
Notes to Editors
The Work and Pensions Committee will publish its Sixth Report of Session 2010-12, The role of incapacity benefit reassessment in helping claimants into employment (HC 1015), on Tuesday 26 July 2011 at 00:01am.
Rethink Mental Illness, the leading national mental health membership charity, works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover a better quality of life.
We help over 52,000 people each year through our services and support groups and by providing information on mental health problems. Our website www.rethink.org receives over 500,000 visitors every year.
Senior Media Relations Officer, Rethink Mental Illness
020 7840 3138
Working together to help everyone affected by
severe mental illness recover a better quality of life.
89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP