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Mental health sickness rise

9th March 2012

Official data from the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed a sharp rise in people claiming the new style of incapacity benefit for mental health problems.

depression

The difficult economic situation is pinpointed as behind the rise of more than a quarter in a year.

DWP statistics show the number claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for mental and behavioural disorders rose 29% between May 2010 and May 2011, from 205,700 to 265,530.

Mental health organisations pinpoint fear of job loss or being under increased pressure because of money worries has led to the rise, which is sharpest in the 45-54 age bracket.

Mental health charity Mind’s chief executive Paul Farmer said: “The economic climate of the last few years, complete with increasing levels of redundancies and unemployment, has seen many people struggle with their mental health and it’s a well-known fact that problems at work and being made redundant can directly cause depression.

“As ESA is so difficult and complex to claim for mental health, this raises questions about whether more people of working age are experiencing mental health problems.”

Analysis carried out by Legal & General revealed one in seven men who lost their jobs developed depression within six months.

Diane Buckley, managing director of Legal & General Group Protection, which provides income protection insurance, said: “The fact that there are more than 260,000 individuals claiming sickness benefits for mental and behavioural disorders is concerning.”

The Government has been clamping down on the numbers claiming ESA, which was introduced by Labour in 2008 to replace Incapacity Benefit.

 

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