Now, I am not a cruel person and I am more than aware that some people really cannot work due to mental anguish.
But as someone who has grown up on a council estate full of lazy, penny-pinching, opportunist benefit cheats (many of my neighbours claim to be “too depressed” or “to anxious” to go to work but can somehow drag themselves out of bed to go on holidays and visit the local discotheques on a nightly basis…) I have to question how readily general practitioners (GPs) will sign their patients off of work, granting them either temporary or permanent incapacity benefits. This costs the government – and therefore; tax payers – millions each year.
The economy aside however, I can see three clear mental health arguments for pushing those with depression back into employment:
You might think that my assertions are unfounded (“How could [I] possibly understand what living with depression is like?”) but I myself have suffered the illness for many years (and still battle the ailment to date) and have been prescribed a number of medications to help me cope.
Let me tell you; finding my place in the world of employment has done more for me then any daily pill ever has.
Being employed not only gives a person suffering with depression a reason to get up each morning but jobs can also teach us new things about a particular industry or topic, or simply; other people. This in turn can see us learning more about ourselves and eventually realise the ways in which we can help ourselves for the better.
Even simple jobs such as supermarket shelf stacking can make a person feel like they have a purpose in life and this can see feelings of being “useless” begin to disintegrate. Completing tasks well and being a part of a team can also provide rewarding feelings, leading to an improved sense of confidence.
Interacting with others on a daily basis can also stop a person from feeling lonely all the time. This is important because when we feel lonely, we can often wrongly assume that this is because there is something wrong with ourselves.
Depression is at its worst when the sufferer has absolutely nothing to distract them from their troubling thoughts. Lying in bed and hiding from the world for the majority of each day can help you to feel better initially but eventually, this simply becomes habitual and can actually worsen the symptoms of depression.
Negative thought patterns only serve to encourage further negative feelings which prevent one from taking a proactive approach to their life and current situation.
An example of a negative thought pattern:
“I’ll never have love, I’ve never had it before and so I won’t ever have love in my life. Therefore; there’s no point in trying to find love or even make an effort with those around me.”
Focusing on the lack of love in one’s life can inadvertently see you repel those who could love you, increasing your misery further. Using a large proportion of each day to focus on necessary tasks (like those found within a job) can help a person realise that the world presents much opportunity and this can aid the break of a depressive cycle.
When we feel bad about ourselves or the life that we live, it can be all too easy to hope that someone will come along and wave a magic wand to improve the situation. When a person feels low, they can often feel as if everything would be different should they only have a partner to love, or if only someone would donate a large sum of money to them.
The truth of the matter is that often it is only the depressed person who can help themselves.
Only self-sufficiency can facilitate change.
If the government is constantly awarding a depressed individual benefits to see them keep a roof above their head, it is hardly surprising that one can begin to feel useless and not in control of their own destiny. Those who think that they are owed favours by the world and/or are unprepared to take responsibility for their own lives will be stuck in and/or develop depression in the future.
Maybe it is time to visit the Job Centre on the way home from the pharmacy?