£70bn spent a year on mental health issues

  • 40% of 370,000 new claims for disability benefit each year are due to mental health issues, an OECD study shows.

    Thinktank have said that mental health issues are costing Britain £70bn a year and urge the government to help those with depression, stress and anxiety into work. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have said that mental health was the cause for 40% of the 370,000 new claims for disability benefit each year. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    An OECD study has found that the bill to the UK from a failure to cope adequately with mental health issues was 4.5% GDO each year, reports the Guardian. 

    "Better policies and practices by employers and the health system are needed to help people deal with mental health issues and get back to work," the OECD said.

    The report added that around a million claimants on employment and support allowance and as many on jobseeker's allowance and other working-age benefits had a mental disorder which hurt their prospect of finding work. It warned that those mental health problems  could be further disadvantaged by welfare cuts.

    "Some of the recent UK welfare reforms designed to tackle stubbornly high disability benefit caseloads go in the right direction. However, further improvements are needed to ensure that reforms live up to their promise to bring people into work. If welfare cuts are to be made, they need to be matched by increased efforts to address the barriers to finding and remaining in work," said the report.

    "The new Work Programme is struggling to place ESA and JSA claimants with mental health problems into work", the OECD said. "People with a mental illness continue to fare badly compared to their counterparts without such illness: their unemployment rate is more than double the overall rate; and the risk of falling below the poverty threshold is almost double the overall risk. Indeed, the risk of poverty among people with mental health problems is the highest in a comparison of 10 OECD countries including seven other European countries, Australia and the US."

    The OECD listed a series of recommendations for the UK which include a stronger focus of mental health in the workplace alongside an increase in resources for employment service providers to ensure more people with mental issues find jobs.

    Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister said: "People with mental health conditions can and do work and the vast majority want to. That's why last summer, working with the Department for Work and Pensions, we jointly commissioned a report to look at how we can better support people with mental health problems to get back to and stay in work. This could not only help them, but helps to build a stronger economy and reduce the strain on the benefits system. Progress has already been made - the expanding Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme has already helped over 80,000 people to move off sick pay and benefits. We are vigorously pursuing solutions and are working across Government to drive improvements. The OECD has recognised the successes we have had, but we want to go further."

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