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March 15, 2012

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Big rise in sickness-benefit claimants with mental-health disorders

More than 40 per cent of those on sickness benefit last year were claiming because of mental and behavioural disorders – an increase of 29 per cent on the previous year.

This is according to new analysis of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions carried out by Legal & General. ESA is the Government’s sickness benefit and is paid to people who cannot work because of ill health or disability.

The DWP figures show that in May last year, a total of 662,230 people were in receipt of ESA. Of those, 265,530 were suffering from mental and behavioural disorders – up from 205,700 claimants in 2010. Legal & General’s analysis also found that the highest number of those claiming on mental-health grounds was in the 35-44 age group (73,600, or 27 per cent of the total number of claimants). The largest percentage increase (66.9 per cent) was in the 60+ age group.

According to the insurer the figures highlight the importance of early notification and specialist support to help employees and employers with absence. Commenting on the analysis, Diane Buckley, managing director of Legal & General Group Protection, said: “The fact that there are more than 260,000 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.”

Other specified conditions for which claimants received ESA included musculoskeletal disorders (95,340 claimants), and circulatory or respiratory disease (42,350 claimants).

Meanwhile, a major European campaign to tackle work-related psychosocial risks was recently launched. The Committee of Senior Labour Inspectors (SLIC) has developed an inspection toolkit – available in 22 languages – for use especially in the health and social-care, service and transport sectors.
The results and conclusions of the campaign will be presented at a conference in Sweden in March 2013. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work will draw on the campaign’s lessons to prepare its own ‘Healthy Workplaces’ campaign on psychosocial risks to run in 2014-15. To find out more, click here.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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