I came across a Twitter account today called @WeAreBeneficiaries they are a New Zealand account and their bio reads:
“We’re a group of artists and beneficiaries demanding a more compassionate social welfare system in NZ.”
I was drawn to them because when it comes down to it we are all just one maybe two unlucky incidents away from being on a benefit. I am acutely aware of the fact that if I had not been married to a someone who earns a reasonable income and we had not been pretty good with our money. I would no doubt be living with my mother right now on a benefit. Being handed the mental illness shit stick is crappy enough. Having to live with my mother on a meagre amount of money would have been terrible. But then I would have been luckier than some who have no support system.
The stories that have been shared on We are Beneficiaries are real, raw, and very sad. There are some nice stories but they are few and far between. They describe situations where Work and Income employees don’t think before they speak, treat people as if they were a number, and put severely unrealistic expectations upon people who are already pushed to their breaking point. Their stories are shared with art-work which I personally think humanises their stories even more.
One that stood out to me was the following;
(credit Laura from @WeAreBeneficiaries)
Compassion and understanding. Those two words are everything when you are suffering from a mental illness!
Going through the mental health system has many of the same issues that accessing a benefit does both systems could learn a lot by:
Treating people with compassion, being careful about words that are used when speaking to a consumer, never making assumptions, reducing the barriers to access rather than building walls.
At the end of the day, every single one of us could find ourselves needing to use these services. Would you like to be treated with compassion and understanding or as if you were a plague on society?
P.S You should totally follow @WeAreBeneficiaries