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      Activating the ‘ideal jobseeker’: Experiences of individuals with mental health conditions on the UK Work Programme

      1 , 2
      Human Relations
      SAGE Publications

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          Abstract

          Active labour market programmes (ALMPs) are critical preparation mechanisms to assist people to enter the workplace. This article analyses qualitative data from a hard-to-access group of individuals with mental health conditions (MHCs) participating in a large-scale UK ALMP, the Work Programme (WP). Using the lens of the ‘extended social model of disability’ and the concept of the ‘ideal worker’, the article demonstrates that ableist norms of the ‘ideal jobseeker’ were embedded within the Programme’s design, prioritising individuals with certain abilities and behaviour over others. Second, the article extends Acker’s framework of inequality regimes to demonstrate that formal and informal inequality practices within the Programme maintained, rather than challenged, disability inequality. This was visible along four dimensions: (1) ALMPs as organising processes producing disability inequality; (2) the visibility of disability inequality; (3) the legitimacy of disability inequality; and (4) control and compliance derived from hierarchical social relations within ALMP design and implementation, involving either stabilising or destabilising effects on disabled jobseekers. The theoretical and practical contributions of this article demonstrate that the design of the WP as an employment preparation mechanism pushed disabled jobseekers further away from paid employment, rather than towards workplace inclusion.

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          From Sex Roles to Gendered Institutions

          Joan Acker (1992)
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            Contours of Ableism

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              Is Open Access

              ‘First, do no harm’: are disability assessments associated with adverse trends in mental health? A longitudinal ecological study

              Background In England between 2010 and 2013, just over one million recipients of the main out-of-work disability benefit had their eligibility reassessed using a new functional checklist—the Work Capability Assessment. Doctors and disability rights organisations have raised concerns that this has had an adverse effect on the mental health of claimants, but there are no population level studies exploring the health effects of this or similar policies. Method We used multivariable regression to investigate whether variation in the trend in reassessments in each of 149 local authorities in England was associated with differences in local trends in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and antidepressant prescribing rates, while adjusting for baseline conditions and trends in other factors known to influence mental ill-health. Results Each additional 10 000 people reassessed in each area was associated with an additional 6 suicides (95% CI 2 to 9), 2700 cases of reported mental health problems (95% CI 548 to 4840), and the prescribing of an additional 7020 antidepressant items (95% CI 3930 to 10100). The reassessment process was associated with the greatest increases in these adverse mental health outcomes in the most deprived areas of the country, widening health inequalities. Conclusions The programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the Work Capability Assessment was independently associated with an increase in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and antidepressant prescribing. This policy may have had serious adverse consequences for mental health in England, which could outweigh any benefits that arise from moving people off disability benefits.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Human Relations
                Human Relations
                SAGE Publications
                0018-7267
                1741-282X
                June 24 2020
                : 001872672093484
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Hasselt University, Belgium,
                [2 ]University of Leeds, UK,
                Article
                10.1177/0018726720934848
                b86067c1-f35c-4c61-9c67-ee2f1b224b01
                © 2020

                http://journals.sagepub.com/page/policies/text-and-data-mining-license

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