The latest edition of the PIP Assessment Guide contains improved guidance for assessors on the significance of whether or not a claimant with a mental health condition is receiving medication.
Assessors very often use the fact that a claimant with, for example depression, is not receiving any medication as evidence that their condition must have very little effect on their daily living or mobility.
However, the guidance issued by the DWP now points out that the severity of a mental health condition “does not necessarily correspond with the type or dosage of medication that the claimant is receiving”.
The guide points out that factors such as side effects, problems complying with a medication regime or the medication not being effective for that individual may all result in someone with a severe condition not receiving medication.
The guidance also goes on to say that assessors should take into account the use of treatments such as psychological therapies instead of medication.
The document does not, unfortunately go on to point out the difficulty that many people have in getting access to therapies, due to a lack of provision in their area.
As a result, some people for whom medication is not appropriate will have no support whatsoever in spite of the severity of their condition.
The full text of the updated guidance on mental health medication is as follows:
When considering mental health medication HPs should remember that not all claimants with a mental health condition will be on medication or receiving therapy. Severity of a mental health condition does not necessarily correspond with the type or dosage of medication that the claimant is receiving. There are a number of reasons why a claimant may be unable or choose not to take mental health medication, for example, but not limited to:
poor compliance due to the nature of mental health condition
side effects or difficulty tolerating medication
lack of efficacy
preference for psychological therapy instead of medication
complicating factors, for example excessive alcohol consumption
Therefore absence of medication does not automatically mean that the health condition is not severe. However, HPs should consider the type and context of certain medications, for example use of depot antipsychotic injections in psychotic disorders.
HPs should also take into account that some medications are used to treat different conditions, for example some antidepressants are also licenced to treat anxiety. HPs must also consider the use of other treatments such as psychological therapies.
We’ll be updating our PIP guide to take account of these changes.