Mental Health Monitor

Disclaimer – This article is of a sensitive nature and mentions trigger words.

“PIP Horrific Self-Harm Questions: The Unsettling Inquiry That Claimants Face”

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) system is designed to provide financial support to people with disabilities or long-term health conditions in the United Kingdom. While the intention behind PIP is to assist those in need, there have been growing concerns regarding the assessment process and the intrusive nature of certain questions asked during assessments. One particularly distressing issue is the inclusion of questions about self-harm, which some claimants find deeply triggering and distressing.

The PIP Assessment Process:

The PIP assessment process involves a thorough examination of an individual’s physical and mental health to determine their eligibility for financial support. Claimants are required to attend an assessment interview where they are asked a series of questions designed to evaluate their ability to carry out daily activities. These questions cover various aspects of daily life, such as mobility, personal care, and cognitive function.

The Triggering Self-Harm Questions:

One aspect of the PIP assessment process that has drawn significant criticism is the inclusion of questions related to self-harm. Claimants have reported being asked about self-harm, including questions about the frequency, severity, and methods used. For individuals who have a history of self-harm, these questions can be deeply distressing and triggering.

The Impact on Claimants:

Claimants who have a history of self-harm have expressed their concerns and distress regarding these questions. Many have reported feeling forced to answer questions about self-harm despite asserting that it is a highly sensitive and triggering topic for them. This has led to feelings of anxiety, shame, and humiliation during the assessment process, causing additional emotional distress to already vulnerable individuals.

Advocacy and Concerns:

Advocacy groups and mental health organizations have raised concerns about the inclusion of self-harm questions in the PIP assessment process. They argue that these questions are inappropriate and that they can retraumatize individuals who have already experienced significant emotional pain. Many claimants and their advocates argue that these questions do not contribute to a fair assessment of an individual’s eligibility for PIP and should be removed from the process.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Response:

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has acknowledged the concerns raised by claimants and advocates regarding the self-harm questions. In response, the DWP has stated that they are committed to improving the assessment process and ensuring that it is fair and respectful. They have pledged to work with advocacy groups and individuals with lived experience to make necessary changes.

“Compassionate Assessments: The Importance of Empathy in Disability Evaluation”

The process of assessing individuals for disability benefits is an essential part of ensuring that those in need receive the support they require. However, it’s equally crucial that this assessment process is conducted with empathy, respect, and sensitivity. One key aspect of this is training assessors to gauge the emotional well-being of claimants and to approach sensitive topics with care, such as by asking about their emotional state and ensuring questions do not trigger intrusive thoughts.

The Role of Assessors:

Assessors play a pivotal role in the disability evaluation process. They are tasked with understanding the complex needs and challenges that individuals with disabilities face in their daily lives. While gathering essential information is part of their job, it is equally vital that they approach their role with empathy and mindfulness, recognizing the emotional toll that the assessment process can have on claimants.

Emotional Well-being Assessment:

One way to introduce compassion into the assessment process is by having assessors ask a simple yet powerful question: “How are you feeling today?” This question not only acknowledges the claimant’s emotional state but also opens the door for them to express their feelings and concerns. This can help create a more supportive and empathetic atmosphere during the assessment.

Additionally, using a scale of 1-10 to gauge a claimant’s emotional state can be a valuable tool. It allows claimants to provide a snapshot of their emotional well-being on that particular day, helping assessors understand the context in which the assessment is taking place. This approach recognizes that emotional states can vary, and it provides an opportunity to adjust the assessment process accordingly.

Avoiding Triggering Questions:

Assessors should also receive training on recognizing and avoiding questions that can trigger intrusive thoughts or emotional distress in claimants. This is particularly important when dealing with self-harm, trauma, or mental health issues. Instead of asking probing or potentially distressing questions, assessors should take a more holistic approach, focusing on understanding how the claimant’s condition affects their daily life and functionality.

The Impact of Empathetic Assessments:

Empathetic assessments can have a profound impact on the well-being of claimants. When individuals feel heard, respected, and understood during the assessment process, they are more likely to engage openly and honestly with assessors. This, in turn, leads to a more accurate evaluation of their needs and a higher likelihood of receiving the appropriate support.

“Recovering from a Distressing PIP Assessment: What to Do When Emotional Distress Takes a Toll”

The process of applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can be a challenging and emotionally charged experience for individuals with disabilities or long-term health conditions. In some cases, the PIP assessment itself can cause emotional distress and adversely affect a claimant’s health, potentially undoing the progress they have made. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to know what steps you can take to address the emotional impact and regain control of your well-being.

Recognize the Impact:

It’s crucial to acknowledge that a distressing PIP assessment can take a significant toll on your emotional and mental well-being. The intrusive nature of some questions and the anxiety associated with the assessment process can lead to emotional distress, exacerbating existing health issues. Recognizing the emotional impact is the first step in addressing it.

Seek Support:

You don’t have to go through this challenging experience alone. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional who can provide emotional support and guidance. Talking about your feelings and experiences can be therapeutic and help you process the distress you’ve endured.

Document Your Experience:

Keeping a record of your PIP assessment experience can be valuable if you need to appeal or make a formal complaint. Document the questions that caused distress, how they made you feel, and any physical or emotional symptoms you experienced afterward. This documentation can serve as evidence of the impact on your health.

Contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP):

If the PIP assessment has caused you emotional distress, consider reaching out to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to express your concerns. While the DWP may not be able to reverse the assessment, they should take your feedback seriously. Providing them with feedback on the distressing aspects of the assessment process may contribute to improving the system for future claimants.

Appeal the Decision (if necessary):

If the PIP assessment results in an unfavorable decision, and you believe it doesn’t accurately reflect your needs or capabilities, you have the right to appeal. Seek assistance from a benefits adviser or advocate who can guide you through the appeals process. Presenting your case with appropriate evidence and documentation can increase your chances of a successful appeal.

Focus on Self-Care:

Emotional distress can take a toll on your overall health. Prioritize self-care by engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being. This could include meditation, exercise, spending time with loved ones, or seeking counseling or therapy to address any lingering emotional trauma.

Consider Legal Assistance:

In extreme cases where the emotional distress and health deterioration are severe, seeking legal assistance may be necessary. Consult with a solicitor or legal aid service experienced in disability benefit cases to explore your options for taking legal action against an unfair or unjust assessment.

A distressing PIP assessment can be a challenging experience, but it’s essential to remember that you have options and avenues for seeking help and redress. Your emotional well-being is paramount, and by taking proactive steps to address the distress and seek support, you can work towards regaining control over your health and your life. Don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted individuals, professionals, or advocacy organizations to guide you through the process of recovery and, if necessary, appeal.


The inclusion of self-harm questions in the PIP assessment process has caused distress and discomfort for many claimants who are already dealing with challenging physical and mental health conditions. It is crucial for the DWP to consider the emotional well-being of claimants and work toward a more empathetic and respectful assessment process. Advocacy groups and mental health organizations continue to press for change, urging the removal of these distressing questions to create a more compassionate system that supports those in need without causing further harm.

Empathy and compassion should be at the forefront of disability assessments. Assessors play a crucial role in creating a supportive and respectful environment for claimants. By asking about a claimant’s emotional state and avoiding triggering questions, assessors can ensure that the assessment process is fair, accurate, empathetic, and considerate of the emotional well-being of those seeking support. Ultimately, a compassionate approach benefits everyone involved, leading to better outcomes for individuals with disabilities and a more just system of disability evaluation.

Personal Experience

I have recently had a PIP Assessment and the assessor started asking about self-harm. I immediately said it was a a trigger for me and not to ask the questions but she insisted saying she had to ask. I told her several times that I did not want to have negative thoughts and that her line of questioning was making me feel uncomfortable but she persisted.

My mental health as a consequence has deteriorated and all the progress I was making with my self-help therapy has been destroyed in one fell swoop.

I haven’t been able to work and I am extremely angry that I was humiliated and degraded. I was asked irrelevant questions such as do I eat vegetables and how often. Perhaps the assessor did not know what to ask and most definitely was not trained properly.

One should never ask about self-harm or suicide directly but should ask in a more sensitive manner. If the claimant says they are not comfortable the assessor should not press further, yet in this case, she did which has caused irreparable damage. Now I have to start my healing all over again.

DWP takes a dim view of you recording calls, however, there is nothing stopping you from making notes. If the call was recorded on the PIP side and they failed to inform you they have essentially broken the law. The people involved in the call must have given consent to be recorded. You can request a transcription of the call recording, as I have done but it has fallen on deaf ears.

It remains to be seen what the outcome of the assessment will be.

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