Navigating the social security system with a mental health problem
CPAG has published a new benefits and mental health handbook.
It’s not the first time we’ve done work on this topic, and it won’t be the last.
Why have we published a book aimed at helping more people with mental health problems get benefits? There is a long list of reasons, some more obvious than others.
Fundamentally, it’s because so many people are not getting the help they need. This book gives those people the information and practical guidance to change this. Benefits can help pay for essentials, recognise the impact of a health problem on a person’s ability to do paid work, and help towards the extra costs of having a long-term disability or health condition. This support can give people stability and independence, and therefore may be as crucial to someone with a mental health problem as anything provided through the NHS.
We want to help people navigate the particular challenges of the benefits system. These include its bureaucracy and inflexibility, which can be harder to deal with when your mental health isn’t good, as well as the blunt tools of ‘health assessments’ and ‘supporting evidence’, which often let down the claimants with the greatest need.
We also want to ensure that people have the right work-related requirements, that they don’t get ‘sanctioned’ for things they can’t help, and that government-approved support measures are used to their full potential. The book gives advice on tools like appointeeship, third-party consent, reasonable adjustments and proactive disclosure.
Ultimately, we wrote the book to help people who might be going through some of the most difficult times in their lives.
Thanks to generous support from our funders, we have been able to publish our handbook online for anybody to read free of charge. While it is mainly aimed at advice workers, we hope it will also be useful for people claiming benefits on their own behalf, for their friends and family members, and for non-advice professionals.