Is the government finally accepting mental health as an illness?

Recognising mental illness

It looks like the government could finally be accepting mental health as an illness after doing a U-turn over disability benefits.

Are you entitled to PIP? Is the Government finally accepting mental health as a mental and physical illness? An article in the Guardian said: “Up to 164,000 people are in line for increased disability benefits after ministers gave in to a high court ruling that said government policy had been “blatantly discriminatory” against people with mental health conditions.”

Individuals with conditions such as severe anxiety and bipolar disorder who said they were too scared to leave the house and needed support to walk 200 metres, were told by the government that they weren’t entitled to PIP payments because they did not need a stick or a physical aid.

The new work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey’s decision overturns moves by ministers in spring 2017 to stop people qualifying for enhanced payments within the mobility component of PIP for reasons of “psychological distress”.

The decision left many disabled people angry as many disabled people lost money and after an outcry from campaigners who said that benefit recipients afflicted by “overwhelming psychological distress” were treated less favourably than other claimants as a result.

A challenge to the high court resulted in a judgment before Christmas last year, in which Mr Justice Mostyn said: “In my judgment, the 2017 regulations introduced criteria … which were blatantly discriminatory against those with mental health impairments and which cannot be objectively justified.”

PIP has two parts, one for help with daily living, the other for mobility. The announcement now means that mental health sufferers can also apply for the mobility part.

To get the standard rate of £22 per week a person must score eight points at assessment. Scoring 12 points allows a person to gain the enhanced rate of £58 per week.

Many had expected Ms McVey to appeal against the decision but instead she asked the Department for Work and Pensions to begin an exercise going through all affected cases in receipt of PIP.

She also released a ministry statement which said: “We will then write to those individuals affected, and all payments will be backdated to the effective date of each individual claim. I hope that by making this statement it is clear that the government is committed to improving the lives of people with mental health conditions.”

Ms McVey’s comments could be a sign that the government are finally accepting mental health as a serious disability after years of failing to recognise it.

Let us know in the comment section or on our social media channels if you have been refused PIP or if you will be applying now that the rules have changed?

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