"no one would dream of telling someone with cancer that lying in bed is not helping them, and that they’re not even trying—why the double standard when the illness is in the mind?"
"A couple claiming benefits have been left shocked and appalled after a man advertising a room for rent told them to “get a job and stop sucking the life out of the UK."
A young woman and her partner, who has no feeling below his neck and therefore claims benefits to cover his rent and living costs, were hit at with abuse by a potential landlord, who laid into them after discovering that they claimed benefits rather than working. Upon receiving their enquiry about the room, the man hit out at them through Facebook messenger with the following rant:
"I’m going to be absolutely blunt and upfront right now. You both need to pull yourselves together and stop blaming ill-health for your reason not to work. Your boyfriend is quadriplegic because he has nothing to get up for every morning.
"Do yourselves a favour and stop sucking the life out of this country. I’m not saying this to be hateful or nasty but it’s the truth.
"Why should I be out of the house twelve hours a day, five days a week and pay for myself to live on this planet when you expect me to pay for your roof alongside mine? If you both pulled your fingers out you might feel better about yourselves and each other.
"I’ve had my say to help you, not to amuse myself."
It’s safe to say that the reaction to that story would cause outcry, even amongst most conservatives.
So why is the real story, where the woman’s partner, Liam, suffers not only from depression (one of the top ten most crippling illnesses according to the World Health Organization) but from anxiety and Asperger’s syndrome, met with praise for the landlord for ‘standing up for his country’ and jeering that the woman’s partner should just stop being lazy?
Someone who is quadriplegic has lost complete use of their body, but has complete mental function. Someone with depression has full use of their body, but a dysfuntional mind. Both are disabilities, both are terrible, and, most importantly, both are valid.
Depression is not sadness. This man is not simply having a few off-days where he’d rather laze around the house than go to work. Some people with depression simply do not have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, regardless of the consequences. It is for this reason that it is considered by the WHO as one of the most disabling illnesses, so why is it treated with a stigma that physical illnesses such as cancer are not?
In 1999, "a 14-country study on disability associated with physical and mental conditions, active psychosis was ranked the third most disabling condition, higher than paraplegia and blindness, by the general population." And yet no one would dream of telling someone with cancer that lying in bed is not helping them, and that they’re not even trying—why the double standard when the illness is in the mind?
Beyond writing off Liam’s mental health issues as nothing more than laziness, the landlord goes on to accuse his partner, Maria, of exaggerating her own (physical) condition in order to leech money from the country’s tax payers.
So if having a bad back or having no less than three disabling mental health conditions is not enough to claim benefits, then what is?
Well, according to Mr Parkes, him not claiming any state benefits whilst out of work for a broken leg for three weeks gives him the authority to determine the health of people he has never even met.
He may brag about not wanting to take benefits from the state because other people need it more, but not only does this emphasise that he can clearly afford to do this whilst too many people in the country don’t even know how they will afford their next meal, but implies that he does think that some people are genuinely eligible for benefits.
I wonder how many of those on Calum’s List our honourable Mr Parkes would deem fit for work, and look the other way when the state is paying for their funerals. With this government, not only are people dying because the general public refuses to accept mental health (also one of the top causes of death in the UK as a result of suicide) as a reason to claim benefits, but Tory cuts are punishing people who can’t physically work.
"Would you say that about a broken leg?" is a great thought experiment to weed out problematic opinions on mental health issues.