Last year, the SKWAWKBOX triggered a severely-embarrassing chain of events for the government by revealing that the DWP’s Jobcentre Plus (JCP) centres, under instruction from David Cameron’s ‘Nudge Unit’ (read: psychological-manipulation), were forcing unemployed people, under threat of immediate loss of benefits, to take un-validated and dangerous ‘psychometric tests’ without ‘informed consent’ and, quite possibly, illegally in more ways than one. We also revealed a nudge-unit ‘front’ masquerading as a bona fide psychological institution.
It turned out that these tests were so poorly and cynically constructed that they gave the same ‘results’ to those completing them regardless of the answers entered – or even if the test was completed without entering any answers at all. The test had been taken – without permission – from a US psychologist linked to torture techniques such as waterboarding. (The author then objected to the unethical use of the test by the UK government!)
Once exposed, both government departments tried desperately to deny what they were doing, but then contradicted themselves more than once, then inadvertently admitted it again. The government claimed that the tests were a trial in just a few areas that had since been discontinued, but this was then shown not to be the case. Claims that the test had been designed and implemented by ‘experts’ turned out to be false and the ‘training’ given to JCP operatives on how to decide who should complete the test turned out to be ‘an informal chat’.
National newspapers started to take up the story and the British Psychological Society even became involved, investigating the psychologist responsible, at least notionally, for the decision to conduct the enforced-test programme.
You would think the government would have learned its lesson, but no.
An article on the ‘Same Difference’ blog reveals that Jobcentre Plus staff are sending people diagnosed with depression a link to an online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) course, claiming not that it might be helpful but that it will cure their depression. Or, in their words:
Beating the blues is just a click away
Read the original article for an image of the ad and link.
CBT is widely used to treat various mental disorders, including depression. But it is generally meant to be conducted in person by a trained professional. Its effectiveness is, however, widely disputed and studies have shown that CBT consisting of ‘self-help’ reading of materials y the patient produce harmful results (see this Wikipedia section for very well-referenced information on criticisms of CBT).
The therapy has also been heavily criticised because it is built around maintaining the status quo – in other words, getting people to feel better about situations that it would be perfectly rational to dislike, feel depressed about or want to change.
And nobody, as far as I know, would claim CBT will ‘beat’ depression. Especially with ‘just a click’.
This latest move is perfectly in line with the government’s already-evidenced desire to get us all to acquiesce to things that we should fight and with its contempt and callousness toward ordinary, disadvantaged people.
But not at all in line with a genuine concern for the well-being of people who are unemployed, suffering from mental illness or both.
Mental health groups will, rightly, be outraged – but could someone in the mainstream media please run with this and give yet another DWP scandal the attention it so obviously deserves?
(There are too many posts on the original DWP ‘test’ to reference in this one article. If you want to read the rest, please use the search function and enter ‘psychometric’.)