Guest post by Lynn
My name is Lynn, I’m 60 years old and I’d like to share my son’s illness with you all to try and help you understand the predicament thousands of others like my son are faced with next year, regarding DWP Benefit Reform for the sick and disabled.
My youngest son aged 40 has suffered from Paranoid Schizophrenia and emotional instability Personality Disorder since the age of 18. I have lived the illness with my son, the highs, the lows, and numerous hospital admissions over the years. My son had another very bad psychotic breakdown in August 2010, which resulted in a section 3 of the Mental Health Act and he has been in hospital care for 2 years this time.
Although my son is nearly 40 years old, mentally he is only 15, he is immature and extremely vulnerable and easily exploited. Therefore needs much support and care when living in the community.
My son, like thousands like him, who suffer from a Severe and Enduring mental health problem, has no voice when it comes to the DWP or ATOS, he like others wouldn’t be able cope with being interviewed next year 2013 when the Disability Living Allowance changes to Personal Independence Payment and he has to be assessed by DWP. He, again like many others, who suffer severe mental illness, doesn’t believe he is ill, and just wants to be left alone.
The severely mentally ill will be hugely disadvantaged by the GOV/DWP/ATOS putting them through this ridiculous assessment in 2013, particularly people who don’t believe they are mentally ill, who to anyone who doesn’t know them, or, their background, can come across as fine, strong, healthy people, and may not appear ill at all, or, that they need help and support in their day to day lives, keeping them and others safe in the community, they won’t see the risks for the mentally ill, and many won’t have family or support to go with them to the assessments!
My son would tell an assessor he wasn’t ill, and say he just wanted to be left alone to get on with his life, which would see him losing his DLA/PIP for sure. Yet in reality, my son cannot get on a bus or use any public transport due to his paranoia that people are staring at him. He would get upset and get angry, probably end up getting in to trouble, because his self-esteem is low as is his confidence, and he thinks the world and his mate are against him.
To avoid this kind of stress and a way of coping, he needs taxis to anywhere he has to go, shopping, to any appointments he has. It is the only way he can cope with going out, and without his DLA/PIP he would be housebound and have no quality of life at what so ever.
If mental health sufferers lose their DLA/PIP benefit, (same as all disabled), it will place a huge extra burden on family, carers and friends emotionally and financially to provide the care and support and finance they need, which most of us couldn’t afford! All to often family/friends who are carers, as in our own case, are ill, worn down.
I was diagnosed 2 years ago with Moderate to Severe ME/CFS and told by my consultant it was due to being a carer for 22 years. My husband is 76 years old, in bad health, tired, it catches up with us and having to provide even more care to our loved ones should they lose their benefit, will put carers at more risk mentally and physically.
Because I understand the plight of the severely mentally ill, and have insight to the wider implications of what the GOV/DWP actions will cause for the sufferer and family, and carers, I have started this e-petition asking the Government to Exclude all severely mental ill from the 2013 DLA/PIP assessments, because what the GOV/DWP are doing is the biggest travesty and betrayal to our sick and disabled who in most cases have already proved their illness/disability with medical evidence and assessments they have already had to go through to get their DLA in the first place, and many like my son, were awarded DLA for an Indefinite period because they have provided proof their illness/disability is a life long one!
There are a number of e-petitions about Benefit Reform, I have signed them all which everyone should do to try and help protect all disabled, however, this petition is specifically to try and get the severely mentally ill EXCLUDED from the assessments because they do not have a strong enough voice and they will be hugely disadvantaged as I said before.
As a mum of a severely mentally ill son, and on behalf of all other sufferers like him, I know these assessments will cause SUICIDES in our most vulnerable, and cause huge hardship all round, please may I respectfully appeal to your good hearts and souls to support this e-petition and sign it, to share it with family & friends, on twitter/face book accounts, groups you may belong to, as I need 100,000 signatures to stand any chance of getting the House Of Commons to debate this, and at the moment I only have 2,456 signatures, we only have until March to get the 100K!
Thank you all for taking the time to read this my plea, and I very much hope you will feel able to sign this petition.
You can follow Lynn on Twitter > @SignSaveLives