The Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy has organised a press Open Letter on the mental health and emotional well-being impacts of the Coalition government's austerity policies, which will be published in a national broadsheet newspaper in the run-up to the general election. The final agreed text of the letter is appended below.
We're hoping that at least 200 therapists will sign the letter; but time is of the essence, so if you wish to be a signatory to the letter, could you please email me ASAP, and by next Wednesday lunchtime at the latest, to be included - thank you. All we need is your name and the appellation/label you'd like to appear after your name (for the newspaper website). And we’d be most grateful if you would circulate this invitation to any like-minded colleagues – many thanks. Looking forward to your support for this important initiative.
Also appended and attached are details of Andrew Samuels’ exciting election workshop in London this coming Friday - it would be great to see you there! (again, do please circulate the details to colleagues; thanks).
Many apologies for any annoying cross-postings!
All the best
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OPEN LETTER TEXT
Dear Letters Editor,
The profoundly disturbing psychological and quality-of-life implications of the Coalition government’s cuts and policies have yet to be mentioned in the election campaign. Counsellors and psychotherapists in the public and private sectors find themselves at the coal-face in responding to the effects of “austerity politics” on the emotional state of the nation. The past five years have seen a radical shift in the kinds of issues generating distress in our clients: increasing inequality and outright poverty, families forced to move against their wishes, and, perhaps most important, benefits claimants (including the disabled and ill) and those seeking work being subjected to a quite new, intimidatory kind of disciplinary regime.
Where this includes the linkage of social security benefits to the receipt of a kind of “state therapy”, as announced in the Chancellor’s latest budget, this is totally unacceptable. “Get to work therapy” is manifestly not therapy at all. With the ominous news that Maximus (the US company replacing Atos to do Work Capacity Assessments) will also be managing the new national Fit for Work programme, it is time for the field’s key professional organisations to wake up to these malign developments, and unequivocally denounce such so-called “therapy” as damaging and professionally unethical.
More generally, the wider reality of a society thrown completely off balance by the emotional toxicity of neoliberal thinking is affecting Britain in profound ways, the distressing effects of which are often most visible in the therapist's consulting room. This letter sounds the starting-bell for a broadly based campaign of organisations and professionals against the damage that neoliberalism is doing to the nation’s mental health. For now, we call on all the parties in this election – and particularly Labour - to make it clear that they will urgently review such anti-therapeutic practices, and appropriately re-fashion their much-trumpeted commitment to mental health if and when they enter government.