Mental Health Resistance Network

Wednesday 22nd May 2013


The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) welcomes the judgement handed down today by judges in the Upper Tribunal in the case of the two claimants with mental health problems who have challenged the manner in which people with mental health difficulties are assessed for their fitness for work through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

The court held that the WCA process disadvantages people with mental health problems because they have greater difficulty than others in explaining to the Atos assessor how their condition affects their fitness to work. The solution is for Atos and the DWP to seek evidence from the claimant’s doctors and others in the community that know what they can do. But the DWP have consistently refused to take this step.

Those who have been claiming that the WCA significantly disadvantages people with mental health problems have been vindicated by today’s judgment. The court has ordered the DWP to put forward proposals for how they will go about ensuring that they have obtained further medical evidence from claimants’ own health care professionals to ensure that any difficulties people have with self reporting are properly taken into account. It is also vital that no one’s health is put at risk by any decision made by the DWP due to failure to obtain appropriate evidence.

In order to assess a person with mental health problems fitness for work it is necessary to obtain such evidence and this has not been the practice of the DWP and Atos in most cases. The judgment is clear: to routinely fail to consider evidence put forward by their own health care practitioners (the DWP current practice) places people with MHPs at a significant disadvantage which means that the current practice has been – and remains – discriminatory. We believe that many people would be spared needless distress if the DWP and ATOS sought and understood the medical histories of the individuals they seek to assess, rather than simply assessing a person’s short term functioning without taking into account the myriad of handicaps and difficulties they face in surviving on a daily basis.

The MHRN has supported the claimants’ case throughout as we believe that the WCA is not fit for the purpose of correctly identifying those people who should receive benefits. ATOS have not shown itself to be capable of fairly assessing people who are signicantly disadvantaged and subject to high levels of trauma and distress. Following on from the court’s decision, it is imperative that Atos assessors cease making inappropriate assessments, and put into immediate effect significant changes to their practices, to prevent further avoidable distress, trauma and suicides, and we call on people to continue to work together to fight against subjecting vulnerable people to this cruel process.

We are concerned at the language which has come to dominate this debate, and are outraged that unfounded DWP claims about levels of fraudulent claims are often simply parroted, resulting in claimants being increasingly viewed as scroungers. Time and time again the DWP has been shown to be misusing statistics in order to advance their ideological assault on the services that have been integral to making society in Britain fairer and more civilised. The misinformation that has surrounded the so-called ‘reforms’ to welfare undermines our democracy in so far as the public are agreeing to huge changes based of false perceptions. 

We call on journalists to challenge this ideological assault and to ensure that those who are in genuine need are not subject to further trauma and distress as we all seek a way of making things  bearable.

We do not believe that these so-called welfare reforms were ever intended to help disabled people back into work, or could ever achieve such an outcome when they are implemented so harshly and callously. Rather it is increasingly clear to us that these ‘reforms’ are part of a drive to bring down wages by creating a pool of desperate impoverished people who will be forced to accept the unacceptable in order to survive. In addition they are trying to boost the interests of the business owners and corporations such as the insurance company UNUM who have been instrumental in designing the WCA.

The MHRN intends now to focus on setting up a local centre where those who are affected by the myriad of cuts to services and benefits can come together to offer mutual support and to find ways of resisting the Tory onslaught together.

We remember those of our friends who have been driven to despair and suicide by the actions of this government, the DWP and Atos. We will continue to struggle in their memory in order to try and prevent needless deaths and trauma in the future.


See also: 

VICTORY !!! MENTAL HEALTH RESISTANCE NETWORK’S JUDICIAL REVIEW OF THE WCA: Finally – legal proof that disability benefits test is unfair for people with mental illness Posted on May 22, 2013


  1. John Hargrave says:

    This the best news I have heard for ages and I hope those who have mental health problems will now be able to access their disability benefits fairly and with dignity.
    Great work by Black Triangle too.

  2. David Calvert says:

    Does this mean those responsible will be treated as criminals or does this mean those who have suffered will continue to be treated as scroungers and layabouts?

  3. jeffrey davies says:

    theyl soon plug this gap ids rantings with his hot air but wouldn’t have thought they take any notice has ids is above the law jeff3

  4. "Scrounger" says:

    I am absolutely delighted at this verdict!!
    As someone with enduring mental health issues, I cannot begin to express my unending gratitude to those who fought this case!!.
    I am very fortunate to have an excellent support network of family and friends around me but I know many, just in my local area, who are not as fortunate and have suffered immeasurably due to these draconian “reforms”.
    This verdict is a light at the end of a long and tortuous tunnel for some of the most vulnerable people in “Great” Britain, who have been subjected to an incredibly arduous ordeal.

  5. hugosmum70 says:

    so what does this mean for those people who are physically disabled or seriously ill, if anything? is it a gateway for them? or dont they come into this at all? who is fighting for them?

    1. jay says:

      It’s difficult to say what will happen for other people enduring this tortuous process.
      Fortunately I don’t suffer from mental health problems but i can see why the WCA has pushed so many over the edge.
      I have felt depressed at times because of it, so it must have been a complete nightmare for those so severely depressed and unable to defend themselves.

      What should happen next is for a case taken to court for those suffering from ME, MS and other hidden but very disabling and debilitating diseases and conditions that leave people so severely exhausted that they are unable to fight for justice.

      The cracks are beginning to appear in this assessment and this victory is a step along the way to one day abolishing this unjust system and put these decisions in the hands of those that know best, the medical experts of the NHS, our GP’s and consultants. That is why it is good news for everyone.

  6. Jane Johnson says:

    Very well done to all involved in taking this case to court and succeeding. As the parent of someone who struggles both mentally and physically to cope with day to day survival, the burden of WCA forms for the disabled and their carers is becoming impossible. A DWP employee mentioned to me recently on the phone that these forms may require completion as frequently as every three months.

  7. David Russell says:

    Well done I am a CAB volunteer starting to do tribunal appeals. As a retired solicitor I have been rather surprised how little medical evidence decisions are based on.
    David russell

  8. David Russell says:

    Where could I get the full decision. Is it a high court decision or a social security appeal decision. Our appeal structure is a little different in Northern Ireland. The case would apply here
    David russell

  9. hugosmum70 says:

    i am particularly interested in people with multiple conditions. i.e. as with myself. asthma, COPD, spinal spondylosis, pre-diabetes treated on diet alone so far, underactive thyroid, an IBS type condition, not yet diagnosed but just as much a nuisance and painful when the stomach cramps arrive. leg ache, night leg cramps meaning not enough good sleep.countless minor things going wrong. im 70 so nothing much of the cut backs/austerity measures affects me at present. but there are a lot of others in similar circumstances as i am who it does affect. i can walk a good distance on the flat , sometimes. as today in my nearest town. but cafes are frequented at least twice in 4 hour period plus seating taken advantage of in between . but Sunday, got taken out and found i was exhausted in no time. even using my walking stick. had to sit and wait for the others to look round the castle we visited for instance. and was still exhausted even though i had walked very little that day. in fact hardly at all. my breathing was terrible, yet very few trees there. so how would it affect someone like that, even if they did go to court to defend people with fibromyalgia (my son has that) ME etc?… because even people whose conditions are not hidden are being thrown off the sick and losing their DLA etc. why cant representation be made for ALL people who have bad medical conditions? wgy do it in bits?

  10. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    The qualifications of an ATOS HCP are follows;

    1/ They had no friends at school and probably dont have any now.

    2/ They did not excel at their job in the first instance.

    3/ People in the same profession saw them as being inferior.

    4/ Probably came from working class backgrounds with minimum cash flow.

    5/ Must possess a hatred of human beings who are disabled.

    6/ Lust for money must outweigh the morality of what they are doing.

    7/ Were probably bullied as children and see the job as revenge for all the hatred they received themselves.

    8/ Have no remorse or feeling for the incredible pain and suffering that they cause on a daily basis.

    9/ Can switch off to the suicides that are regularly reported.

    10/ Usually capable of keeping their job a secret and working in other areas where their identity is not known.

    11/ Have undergone basic training that is tantamount to kiddies homework.

    12/ Feel confident that the work they do will never come back to haunt them.

    13/ Must be confident in lying,cheating and stealing from the most disadvantaged in our broken society.

  11. PAULA says:


  12. matthew fox says:

    dont let this goverment of the hook,they are a bunch of con men,keep fighting and victory will soon over come these wankers

  13. jane edyvean says:

    just to say i to am fighting to get back my sickness benifit back and i can understand how those people felt@still do, i suffer physical@mental issues and i still have a long way to go.i wish at times that i did not put in for thee appeal as im not coping at all with the stress and i find it so upsetting .

  14. Shaun says:

    I’ve suffered with mental health problems all my life. This has had an extremely serious effect on my mental health, I live in constant terror of being assessed. I can’t go through this any-more. It has caused me to have relapses and suicidal thoughts. I battle on though and this is good news. To all those fighting on behalf of people like me, I thank you from the depths of my heart.

  15. PAUL says:

    it was a registered nurse at atos who scored me nil points… for a lifetime of ocd and other mental health issues…that was in july 2012… i’m still waiting on tribunal date.. will this ruling apply in my case? can i use this in my appeal?

  16. Will Clegg says:

    I can’t believe that this wasn’t implemented in the first instance, surely it’s common sense that some individuals who suffer with Mental Health problems may not be able to express themselves as clearly?

    Utter stubbornness from the DWP on the matter, they could have saved themselves a lot of time and money if they had listened in the first place instead of digging their heels in.

    Great work Black Triangle!

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