We’re shocked to see the misguided and harmful comments on mental health by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the media.

Mel Stride was featured on the front page of The Telegraph newspaper after saying that Britain’s approach to mental health is in danger of “having gone too far”, with the “normal anxieties of life” being labelled as an illness.”

Deep lack of consideration

We believe Mr Stride was right to draw attention to the alarming numbers of people out of work due to mental ill health, but his comments show a deep lack of consideration for the complex set of challenges, including the cost of living, under which many people are living.

Catastrophic consequences

Responding to Mr Strides comments, our Workforce lead, Kris Ambler said:

“Research has shown that while work is good for mental health, bad work can be catastrophic.

“Effectively forcing people to take ‘any’ work by reducing their benefits is not the answer. This would likely only exacerbate distress and mental health problems for many.

Many people struggling 

“What’s needed is a more adequately resourced package of support for those out of work, with the recognition that many of those people are employed and have jobs awaiting their return.

“The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions' assertion that mental health culture “has gone too far” is not rooted in evidence. The rhetoric of taking personal responsibility ignores the valid experiences of many people struggling with their mental health and unable to access support, often until it is too late.”


Last week, we wrote to The Telegraph to explain this and state that we need to go down river and provide help, through more accessible psychological therapies - rather than stand on the shore and throw stones as those already stranded and struggling.

We need the government to support the economy to do more to incentivise good work and invest in initiatives that provide a wide range of financial incentives to help get people into work and businesses back on their feet during these difficult times. Simply removing the safety net for the most vulnerable will not help achieve that aim.

Letter to Telegraph

Our letter addressing Mel Stride’s comments was printed in The Telegraph on Saturday 23 March 2024.

Get in touch

If you are a member and have some feedback on this issue, please contact publicaffairs@bacp.co.uk