Nicola has spoken out in the House of Commons about the need to support benefits claimants who suffer with mental health issues.
She has previously raised a constituency case involving mental health with the Minister on a number of occasions, and is acutely aware of the complicated issues surrounding difficulties with mental health and the benefits system. She is therefore pushing for improvements to mental health training for those working in assessment centres.
During Questions to the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Nicola asked the Minister the following question:
I welcome the Minister’s commitment to introducing a yellow card system for sanctions, but does he agree that we also need to ensure that claimants with mental health problems are placed in the right group in the first place? Will he reaffirm the commitment that I received from his predecessor, following a tragic constituency case, to improve mental health training for assessors and decision makers?
Justin Tomlinson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, responded:
This is an important area, in which the Government have rightly invested an extra £1.25 billion in the March 2015 Budget. We have rolled out a £43 million series of pilots to provide face-to-face, group, online and telephone support. Also, we have mental health and wellbeing partnership managers and disability employment advisers right across the jobcentre network. We will continue to push further training, as this is an important issue.
Nicola firmly believes that mental health should be treated with the same priority as physical health, and this is something that the Government has championed. She will be keeping up the pressure on the DWP and will continue to raise individual cases with the appropriate body, making representations to the Minister.