Over a million people are claiming benefits because of mental and behavioural disorders, which is over a 25% increase from ten years earlier.
The Department for Work and Pensions statistics show that 1,031,700 people were claiming benefits because of mental and behavioural disorders in the most recent figures collated this year.
This was up from 824,110 in the same month of 2002, an increase of over 200,000 in ten years.
158,370 claimants were aged between 45-49, an increase of over 50% compared to 2002; 82,790 claimants were aged between 18-24, an increase of nearly 30% since 2002; while the largest percentage increase (62.65%) was in the over-60 age-group.
The charity Hull and East Yorkshire Mind has had a 20% increase in the call they receive in the past six months from people feeling suicidal, suffering from depression and other mental health issues.
The charity’s chief executive officer Greg Aitken, said:
Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can have crippling effects on people’s lives. With high-pressure modern day society it is important to seek help when needed.
The DWP results come at a time when awareness of mental health issues is beginning to improve with Labour leader Ed Miliband being one of the most prominent to raise the issue.
Insurer Legal and General who have analysed the data from DWP, has launched its Stress in the City campaign to raise awareness of the growing problem.
Legal & General Group Protection managing director Diane Buckley said:
The fact that there are more than one million individuals claiming sickness benefits for mental and behavioural disorders is concerning.
These figures show how important it is for employers to provide good quality support for people in the workplace.
Our own data has shown that the largest cause of group income protection claims across the financial services sector is for mental health problems, showing increasing pressures in the workplace such as changes in regulation and trying to deliver more for less, are all taking their toll.
The Welsh government is encouraging people to have the training offered by Mind Cymru so that they can spot warning signs of mental illnesses. The number of people in Wales who have received training as mental health “first aiders” is expected to top 10,000 in the next few weeks.
Ian Barr, a mental health first aid trainer, said:
The skills we train are exactly the kind of skills we train in physical first aid – to recognise when somebody is in crisis – how to help them with that support at the time. But we also signpost them to further care if they need it.
With our support they actually want to stay in work and that helps them with social interaction. And that's important because work might be the only safe place they have.