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Q16 - coping with social situations

This advice applies to England

This question is on page 15 of the form - see what it looks like

ESA50 example form

How to answer the question

This question is about how you cope with meeting and speaking to people.

It's about whether you have difficulties relating to people, or if meeting and speaking to people causes you significant distress.

The reason you have difficulties could be because:

  • you have a condition like autism which means you find it hard to relate to people
  • you have a learning disability
  • you have issues with anger or aggression
  • you have a mental health condition

The DWP is trying to understand:

  • whether you have difficulties with people you know
  • whether you have difficulties with people you don't know
  • how often you have problems - whether it's all the time or most of the time

"Can you meet people you know without feeling too anxious or scared?"

  • No
  • Yes
  • It varies

This could be anyone you've met before like your doctor, your neighbours or friends. It doesn't just mean people you're close to.

Don't feel embarrassed if you have to tick "no", for example if:

  • seeing people you know makes you anxious or scared, for example because it makes you feel stressed or nervous
  • you avoid meeting up with people

"Can you meet people you don't know without feeling too anxious or scared?"

  • No
  • Yes
  • It varies

This could be someone like a cashier in a shop, a person in the bus queue, or a neighbour you've never met. Consider how you'd feel if you needed to deal with the public in a job, for example in a shop or a hotel.

You might need to tick "no" if:

  • speaking to strangers makes you scared or anxious, for example because it makes you feel stressed or nervous
  • you try to avoid meeting and speaking to new people
  • you try to not go out because you don't want to see people

You might need to tick 'it varies' if bumping into people you didn't expect to see makes you anxious or scared, but you're okay when you plan to meet them.

If this is the case then explain what happens and how it makes you feel in the box.

What to write in the box

It's important you tell the DWP more by explaining your situation in the box.

Use the blank box to explain how you feel about spending time with other people. For example:

  • how you feel when you have to meet and speak to people
  • if you find it hard to relate to people - how they react to you, and how it makes you feel
  • how often you avoid seeing or meeting people
  • whether you find it easier to meet other people if someone you trust is with you
  • whether you have good and bad days
  • if you could cope with meeting or speaking to more than one person at a time
  • whether it physically affects you, for example makes you feel hot, faint or dizzy

Example

Keisha says: "I can't make eye contact and talk to my friends - they're people that I used to see all the time. It's impossible for me to leave the house because I don't have any confidence and wouldn't be able to deal with it, even if I had a few weeks to prepare for it. I wouldn't be able to cope if my GP left and I got a new doctor - my pulse would race and I'd have a panic attack."

Next steps

Question 17: Behaving appropriately

Back to Help filling in your ESA form

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