A newly launched project is seeking to examine the role Basic Income (BI) could play in improving recipients’ mental wellbeing.
Peace of Mind: Exploring Universal Basic Income’s Potential to Improve Mental Health is being led by Basic Income Network Scotland chair Mike Danson and the University of Strathclyde’s Matt Smith.
Funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII), the project aims to assess BI’s potential role in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eliminating poverty and achieving good health and wellbeing.
“In supporting and arguing for the many benefits of a Basic Income we have been acutely aware of the concerns and worries of many groups representing and advocating for those with long term conditions and disabilities, including poor mental health,” said Professor Danson.
“Faced with a social security system that stigmatises them and is not fit for purpose, they are fearful of further changes and the threats to their wellbeing and incomes.
“We need to be aware of these issues, and to work through the implications of BI with them so that they can influence and help shape the model and the introduction of a BI.”
Over the course of six half-day sessions, individuals with professional and personal experience of mental illness and/or the benefits system will come together with BI advocates and past participants in BI pilots to critically examine how BI could impact mental health.
In the first two sessions, participants will share insights on the topics of BI and mental health, before moving on to discuss the links between financial insecurity and mental health issues in sessions three and four.
In the final two sessions, participants will reflect on the key learnings generated during the project and explore how they can be applied to the proposed Scottish BI pilot.
The project team will then seek to compile these findings into resources that can be used by groups across the world to inform future pilots on the impacts of BI on mental health.
In addition, storytelling workshops with project participants will help create a digital exhibition on the lived experience of mental health and its socioeconomic impacts and their relation to the SDGs.
“For those with mental health problems, which are often caused and exacerbated by insecurity and low incomes and pay, a basic income would offer some relief from these and related causes,” Professor Danson said.
“By being recognised as a full member of society, having significant contributions to their income and without the need for DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] tests of their conditions, they are reassured and better able to improve their mental health and wellbeing.”
Peace of Mind will run between November 2020 and February 2021. Keep an eye on our website and social media pages for the latest updates on the project.
Catherine Anderson, Basic Income Network Scotland volunteer
Image credit: “Motherwell , Scotland Sunrise” by Pure1967 is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.