Activists plan ‘medication strike’ over spending cuts


Mental health service-users are holding a one-day national “medication strike” this week to protest about government cuts to spending on benefits for disabled people.

The action will take place on Tuesday 26 October and is being coordinated by the campaigning network Mad Pride.

Mad Pride hopes service-users across the country will refuse to take their medication or engage with mental health services on that day as a protest against the cuts.

Mark Roberts, a founder member of Mad Pride, said the action was “a shot across the bows” of the government, with further medication strikes being discussed.

But he said organisers do not believe a 24-hour strike will be harmful to those taking part.

The action will take place on the same day that activists gather at Speakers’ Corner in London, in another protest organised by Mad Pride against the coalition government’s “savage” welfare cuts.

The protests will particularly focus on planned cuts to spending on disability living allowance (DLA), incapacity benefits and housing benefit.

Mad Pride believes the benefits cuts will disproportionately affect people with mental health conditions and drive them into “dire poverty”.

It says the government wants the public to think that “people with depression, anxiety disorders and other ‘mental illnesses’ are malingerers and scroungers – when in fact most of us find it a terrible day to day struggle just to get by”.

Campaigners fear that the stress caused by the threat of benefits cuts will lead to a “huge increase” in suicides among people with mental health conditions.

They will distribute information at the protest aimed at supporting people to cope with the impact of the welfare cuts and telling them where they can find help and advice.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Department for Work and Pensions said: “Encouraging people to stop their medication is extremely irresponsible and can have serious consequences. No one should do so without seeking professional advice.

“Our benefit reforms will ensure that support goes to those who need it the most and can be sustained into the future.”

The protest will take place at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, on Tuesday 26 October, from 1pm.

18 October 2010