British psychologists campaign against cuts and social inequality

This video from England says about itself:

Austerity hurts mental health say psychologists on Leicester to London walk

26 August 2015

‘Walk the talk 2015’ tries to raise awareness of the social policies that are leading to psychological distress.

By Ross Mitchell in Britain:

UK psychologists campaign against cuts and social inequality

2 September 2015

In August, British psychologists organised a five-day “Walk the Talk” march, to protest against budget cuts and social inequality and the effects they have on mental health.

The marchers started at the offices of the British Psychological Society in Leicester and ended at the society’s headquarters in the centre of London, interviewing people at food banks and support centres along the way.

March organiser, Dr. Stephen Weatherhead, told the Guardian, “I work in brain injury and it’s been stressful to see the effect the benefits system has, with patients being pushed through traumatic assessments or being pressured into work when they’re not ready.”

He continued, “People’s psychological experience is exacerbated by their social situation. Some people are really struggling to feed their families, or worrying about whether they can pay their heating bills over the winter. Their debts are mounting up and they’re not able to find a way out.”

The web site states that there is “a momentum growing amongst psychologists who are pressing for social inequalities to be addressed.” It criticises the fact that the UK is now the second most unequal country in the world. Over a quarter of children, some 3.5 million, live in poverty and the use of food banks has increased fivefold since 2010.

The web site reports that psychologists are seeing growing numbers of parents unable to take their children to therapy centres because of the cost of travel, that more individuals with significant disabilities are being told they are “fit for work” and there is increasing emotional distress, caused primarily by poverty and material deprivation. Services are under greater pressure and less able to provide support, with more families and children living in temporary accommodation and unable to get scarce affordable social housing, contributing to mental health problems.

In a statement of values on the web site, the psychologists say they want to build an “increased presence within existing power structures,” urge policymakers to “consider the wider systemic implications of proposed changes to health and economic policy” and call for “the media stigmatisation of those in conditions of deprivation and poverty to end.”

The statement of values and the movement of UK psychologists is an attempt at initiating a democratic debate over the relationship between social inequality and health care. Albeit a sincere and welcome effort, it cannot develop effectively in the interests of workers or those accessing health services unless the profit motive in society is challenged.

Being poor in America is a clear predictor that the health care you receive will be far inferior to that of your wealthy counterparts. This reality, documented in a new study published in Health Affairs, will come as no surprise to workers and the poor who struggle daily to gain access to health care and pay for it: here.

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