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The Industrial Relations of Mental Health: WES Session

8 October 2020 (10am-12.30pm)

About the Event

This online event will look at the emerging political fault lines in the mental health debates in the UK in the Covid-19 context. One of the realities that has come into focus for millions of people in 2020 are the consequences of reforms in the UK’s social security and mental health services, of the growing policy link between these two services. The instrumentalisation of mental health services in the pursuit of policy objectives related to the Universal Credit reforms for working age social security claimants has introduced mental health services into the DWP’s Universal Credit provision, the largest mental health service in the Increased Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) into job centres and Employment Support Workers into GP surgeries. One of the things that is less well understood is how the industrialisation of mental health work has driven this reform through the introduction of a diluted model of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) through the rolling out of IAPT. The ‘evidence base’ for IAPT services has been established through the introduction of performance data and management techniques that have become highly contested within the sector. When 60 per cent of disability benefits are paid on the basis of mental illness, combined with IAPT's claims of 50 per cent recovery rates it explains why IAPT has such political traction in the age of austerity.

The growing traction of a social model of mental health as opposed to the dominant positive psychology and CBT modalities is in part due to the campaigning of the unrecovery movement and self-organised groups of mental health workers critical of the current system. As the real impact of psychological interventions within the welfare system come to light and the consequences of inadequate services on suicide rates and self-harm start to be exposed the mental health crisis is now widely understood as a social one).

This event will hold a discussion about the experience of activists - both from service user and worker positions - and look at the future of mental heath across the sector.


  • Jo Ingold (Chair), is an Associate Professor of Human Resource Management in Deakin Business School. Prior to joining Deakin, Jo worked at Leeds University Business School.  Jo’s research, teaching and research impact activities fuse human resource management and public policy.  She is a member of the Editorial Board of Work, Employment and Society and, from January 2021, will be an Editor.
  • Elizabeth Cotton, academic from the Cardiff Metropolitan University, founder of www.survivingwork.org and thefutureoftherapy.org and Co-Editor in Chief of WES will be talking about Ubertherapy and the digitalisation of therapeutic work.
  • Debbie McNamara, from the Mental Health Resistance Network will be talking about the social model of mental health and the growth of online co-counselling as an alternative to mental health services.
  • Rosie Rizq, therapist and academic from University of Roehampton who researches into work and politics in mental health, co-editor of The Industrialisation of Therapy, PCCS books will be talking about the industrialisation of care and the impact on therapeutic relationships.
  • Clare Slaney, Psychotherapist of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility and founding member of the Partnership for Psychotherapy and Counselling will be talking about the premise that work is good for us and the rationale for supporting therapeutic work.


This event is free of charge but registration is required.  A link and passcode to join the webinar will be circulated to those registered prior to the date of webinar.