Dave (“normal, average delusional and paranoid man”) writes an excellent blog on trying to combat the stigmas which surround diagnoses of mental illness.

He says he is relatively well at the moment, and would like to make the return to work.

As I have, perhaps, written before, it is a continual bugbear of mine that those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia find it hard, nay almost impossible to find paid work, not only because of the stigmas which surround the diagnosis, but because there seems to be so little support out there for people like me to return to work. Despite a known high rate of willingness to work amongst those with mental ill health and despite many of us experiencing long periods of well-being (I would say I have been mentally fit at least since 2006) it seems that many of us, at relatively early ages, are put on the economic scrap heap

So, Dave wrote to Tory leader Dave Cameron and asked what exactly the Conservatives proposed to offer to help people in his position.

The answer?

OK, so far, so vague. If I wanted to return to work, exactly what support would I get, other than being just moved to a different area of the benefits system, one which, it must be remembered, pays less in benefits than Incapacity. Nowhere is there mention of measures which might actually make a difference, like those suggested by Professor Graham Thornicroft, such as support from job coaches (employment advisers), providing structured psychological treatment, encouraging health and social care agencies to see the experience of mental illness as a positive attribute when hiring staff, developing new roles in which former service users are employed in a mental health team, and the introduction of “reasonable adjustments” as cited in the Disability Discrimination Act.

The above changes might actually make a difference to me in experiencing some form of success in the open market. On the other hand, the Tory policy of simply, if it was that I were found fit to work, moving me on to Job Seeker’s Allowance, would seem only to result in me receiving less money. The stigma which surrounds my diagnosis would remain, the difficulties in finding paid work perhaps not alleviated. So, what would the Tories do for people in my situation? According to this response, not near enough.

As usual, the politicians issue simplistic answers which do nothing to combat the real problems faced by people with various disabilities. They offer plenty of stick, in the form of threats to reduce our income, but nothing in the way of carrot, in the form of meaningful reform of the way people with disabilities and mental health problems are treated (in or out of the workplace). Like the Labour party, the Tories’ response is to increase the stress of living with a disability, which is entirely counterproductive as stress is one of the things guaranteed to make any kind of mental illness even worse.