8 Dec 2008

'It turns people into vegetables': Alan Wheatley on the 70s

had this from Alan, interesting stuff from a discussion on the 1970s, thanks Alan

One difference between the evident worlds of 'now and then' in my
experience is that many adults with what are now termed 'learning
disabilities' [previously 'the mental handicapped' and / or severe
mental illness are no longer in total institutions. Prisons are now
over-populated by people with learning difficulties and learning
disabilities. Many with mental health problems are now seen walking the
streets, sleeping rough -- although such homelessness can also be a
cause of severe mental health problems. Many more in both categories are
now on Incapacity Benefit which the government is making obsolete.

The Thatcher government has been held largely responsible for such
'community care policy' that does not care. Yet in 1978 at a Manpower
Services Commission-run 'Employment Rehabilitation Centre' [sic], I
witnessed that there were rehabilitees who had been in psychiatric
institutions who were being channelled through the ERC as a 'half-way
house'. One, who was a fellow lodger in bed-and-breakfast accommodation,
told me of his encounters with 'largactol' in such an institution, and
his attempt at suicide. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorpromazine>.
"It turns people into vegetables," he told me.

Such groupings were 'a class of their own' so to speak and still exist
but are considerably under-represented in mainstream media. They tend to
be on Incapacity Benefit and do not get cold weather payments until the
age of 60. Thus there are more IB claim closures in winter than at any
other time. The DWP spin on this is that after two years on IB a person
is more likely to retire or die than return to paid employment.

Alan Wheatley

1 comment:

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