In light of the upcoming General Election on 7th May, the Scottish Mental Health Partnership (SMHP) decided to carry out research into the experiences of people with lived experience of mental health problems with regards to applying for Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Welfare reform has been an overriding shared concern – and, with ESA the main employment-related benefit for disabled people, this topic was chosen as the basis of the Partnership's first report.

The results were enlightening but, unsurprisingly, raised many issues with the recent welfare ‘reform’ agenda which is punishing vulnerable people.

The report, Ticking All the Wrong Boxes: Mental Health and Employment Support Allowance, adds to an increasing body of evidence which shows that Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and the associated Work Capability Assessment (WCA) are not fit for purpose for people with lived experience of mental health problems. The system is mistrusted, causes significant anxiety for applicants and lacks sufficient flexibility to measure the impact of mental health conditions on someone’s ability to sustain employment.

The Scottish Mental Health Partnership is a coalition of a number of national mental health charities, established in 2014, which works together to promote mental health awareness and improve outcomes for people experiencing mental health issues. The Partnership collaborates to offer new perspectives and a progressive vision for mental health in Scotland.  Support in Mind Scotland is an active member of the Partnership.