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”.