New Communist Party of Britain
The New Communist Party believes that the pressures of living under capitalism in crisis are responsible for generating much of the epidemic of anxiety and depression that is sweeping Britain and the western world.
Financial insecurity, unmanageable consumer debt leading to over-long working hours and exhaustion, fears of losing jobs and homes and social isolation are taking a heavy toll on our working class. This is exacerbated by the loss and/or reduction of workers’ dinner breaks and tea breaks - essential opportunities for informal social discussion where worries could be shared and where class consciousness and confidence could develop.
At the same time our mental health services are desperately short of funding and it is getting worse. NHS mental health trusts are discharging patients to the care of inexpert general practitioners.
Medications, especially SSRIs [selective seratonin re-uptake inhibitors] are being prescribed inappropriately when even the manufacturers admit that only about one-in-three patients get any benefit from them and many patients suffer damaging side effects.
The talking therapy sessions are based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which is based on pseudo religious, idealistic concepts that thoughts can affect material realities. Although some patients benefit from it, often patients are told that the problems are not poverty, insecurity, overwork, lack of rest and recreation or social isolation but their own attitude to the real world and that they must control their thoughts and become perpetually optimistic and refuse to acknowledge the grim realities of their lives, or that they are being exploited and abused by the ruling class.
These therapies may have a temporary positive effect but this is undone once the patient is once again faced with the reality of their working lives. But they are told their problems are entirely down to their own negative thinking, which they have failed to control. This can make them even more depressed.
Communists believe that most neurotic mental illnesses (mainly anxiety and depression) can be prevented by shorter working hours, better social and economic security of jobs and homes, more opportunities to socialise with fellow workers in lunch and tea breaks, affordable access to leisure activities and an inclusive culture to allow the class collective consciousness to develop so that each worker feels confident as part of a mutually caring group.
The ruling class has been brutally effective in undermining working class collective consciousness and individualising workers so that they are alone with all the stresses and strains that trying to survive amid debts, cuts and austerity bring.
Mental Health services have been cut and privatised, especially among the elderly mentally ill. We must mobilise the working class to fight against the destruction, of our health service based on need not profit.
We call for mental health services to be much better funded with treatments more closely tailored to the needs of each patient to draw them back into feeling a respected, confident and cared-for member of society.
Furthermore we call for the immediate abolition of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) as conducted by the company Atos on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. The purpose of this test is to cut Government spending on the long-term sick and disabled by £18 billion by declaring most claimants of sickness and disability benefits fit either for work or training for work. In the process they are transferred to lesser, short-term benefits and even these are at risk if the claimants fail to prove they are seeking work or fail to attend training sessions - even though they are not able to comply and there are no jobs available.
When claimants are able to appeal against WCA decisions between 40 and 60 per cent win their appeals. But this takes months and even after the courts reverse a decision the claimants face a new WCA test and are again declared fit for work.
Over 1,000 claimants have died within six months of being declared fit for work by the WCA; many of these are suicides.
This test amounts to cruelty to physically and mentally ill claimants. It aggravates depression and anxiety in those who already have it and causes these mental conditions in those who did not have them before.
As Communists we agree that people with long-term physical and mental health problems should be encouraged to develop their abilities as far as possible and to become engaged as contributing, respected and confident members of society as much as possible. But this engagement must be voluntary and at a pace the claimant feels comfortable with. They must never be threatened with loss of benefit or destitution if they cannot comply.
And employers should be compelled to offer a proportion of jobs to people with long-term health problems on terms that allow them frequent time off for ill health if necessary and attendance at medical appointments.