A new paper by Sebastiao Viola and Joanna Moncrieff in the British Journal of Psychiatry shows that disability claims for mental disorders in the UK rose from 572,000 claims in 1995 to 1,162,000 claims in 2014. Of the claims in 2014, over 44% were for depressive disorders while 23% were for anxiety and other neurotic disorders. This occurred despite an overall decline in the number of claimants of disability benefit, due to a reduction in claims for other conditions.
The report was based on a review of data collected by the Department of Work & Pensions, covering England, Scotland and Wales.
The authors noted that decreasing stigma associated with mental health problems may be a contributing factor. However they also pointed out that the pattern of rising claims is compatible with other developed countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Israel and the USA.
In addition, they drew attention to the increasing use of all types of drugs for mental disorders over this period, noting that the use of these drugs “does not appear to have ameliorated the rising trends in the disability claims”.
Viola S., Moncrieff J., “Claims for sickness and disability benefits owing to mental disorders in the UK: trends from 1995 to 2014” BJPsych Open (2016) 2, 18–24. doi: 10.1192/bjpo.bp.115.002246
I’m sorry Joanna but this isn’t helpful in the current climate where MH claimants are being targeted with impunity & the problems that people have are also rooted in the society they live in, as for “less stigma” you have to be joking you really have taken your eye off the ball to state that. Government won’t look at this & think maybe we should fund more non-med services it will simply be another stick to beat people with. You could have produced a more nuanced politicised piece, I’m disappointed in you. Please talk to service users and claimants.
I feel this article would have been improved by speculating that perhaps conditions in developed countries have conspired to bring about this increase. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that more people are feeling axious and depressed when people get caught in a pincer movement between consumer society and at its contaminant demand that they be more productive and consume more at the same time in order to feel better about themselves. It seems to me that this is as worthy an idea to spectulate on as the speculation that the increased numbers are the result of less stigma.
We know that meds increase overall disability, but at the moment pointing out the increased claims is a bit like supporting assisted euthanasia when social justice is at an all time low. Although I personally support assisted euthanasia I realise that now is not the right time to be campaigning on it because everyone in receipt of any state support is at enough risk as it is not being supported to live. Likewise as much as I know meds cause reduction in life span and want access to alternatives, all social support demands people are on meds (at least on paper), and our govnt is targeting people with a mental illness dx who are claimants. You forget DLA/PIP is the only reason some CAN work. Others need to remain doing voluntary work as their outcome.
Please don’t put all your eggs in the Open Dialogue basket too with the much reported “75% back into work/education at 2 yrs”. This fails to take into account Finnish-UK differences; state and higher education systems, unemployment and working conditions, housing crisis, shit housing, highly conditional and punitive welfare (both in and out of work). Of course younger 1st time SU’s without years of psych service baggage and zero social capitol within a better social and political environment will do better than in neoliberal UK. It’s not comparing like with like, and how are those stats with SU’s in the 40-65 age range with a 5-25 year ‘gap’ in their CV?
Critique from Philip Thomas: http://www.philipfthomas.com/index.php/blogs/28-un-critical-psychiatry