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Work and Pensions Minister Believes Mental Health Culture has Crossed a Line

Mel Stride has announced a plan to reintegrate 150,000 individuals on sick leave with ‘mild’ conditions back into the workforce.

The UK’s mental health culture has been criticized for going “too far,” with everyday challenges seen as “medical conditions” that hinder progress and increase welfare costs, according to a government minister.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride shared his views with The Telegraph on Wednesday while unveiling a strategy to assist 150,000 people on sick leave with “mild” conditions in returning to work.

Mr. Stride emphasized the positive impact of work on mental health, cautioning against labeling normal life fluctuations as medical issues that hinder individuals and contribute to rising benefit expenditures.

He acknowledged the sensitive nature of the topic but stressed the importance of having an open dialogue about it.

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Mr. Stride’s comments have sparked debate, with some experts criticizing the perspective on mental health inactivity since the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Downing Street confirmed support for addressing long-term sickness-related inactivity and mental health-related inactivity, which have been on the rise post-pandemic.

Efforts are underway to reduce inactivity through a Back to Work Plan worth £2.5 billion, aiming to assist people, including those with mental health conditions, in overcoming obstacles to reentering the workforce.

Benefits Assessments and Mental Health

Recent statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions reveal that a significant number of Universal Credit health assessments recorded mental and behavioral disorders, highlighting the complexity of health issues faced by claimants.

The DWP emphasized the need for personalized support to address mental health challenges among those on Universal Credit.

Welfare Reforms

The government is considering reforms to the Work Capability Assessment process to better support individuals in returning to work based on their abilities and circumstances.

The aim is to provide tailored assistance to those capable of working under updated criteria related to mobility and social interaction.

The Back to Work Plan introduced by the government seeks to empower individuals with disabilities, long-term health conditions, or long-term unemployment to seek and maintain employment.

Economic Inactivity

A recent research briefing highlights a high number of economically inactive individuals in the UK, with long-term sickness and being a student identified as leading reasons for inactivity.

The briefing underlines the challenges posed by inactivity, particularly among specific age groups since the start of the pandemic.

PA Media contributed to this report.

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