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20,000 people off work in the UK every month with mental ill health

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The latest data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed thousands of people are deemed unable to work due to mental health issues every month.

Official figures indicate that at least 20,000 incapacity benefit claims are attributed to mental health problems, constituting more than two-thirds of the total claims.

Previously, mental health and learning disabilities were identified as significant contributors to disability benefits. However, until now, there has been a lack of specific data on incapacity benefits provided through universal credit for individuals struggling to work.

The DWP data further reveals that 2 million people are currently receiving universal credit health benefits, representing a significant increase of 400,000 individuals in a year. Of these recipients, 69% are deemed unfit for any form of work.

Among the assessments conducted in the past two years, mental and behavioral disorders were cited in 69% of cases, while other health issues such as back and joint problems, nervous diseases, metabolic disorders, circulatory problems, and digestive illnesses were also prevalent.

On average, claimants have 2.7 health conditions, highlighting the complexity of illnesses contributing to the surge in benefits claims. Experts emphasize that there is no quick solution to address this trend, underscoring the need for tailored support rather than punitive measures against jobseekers.

Christopher Rocks from the Health Foundation emphasizes the increasing impact of mental health on individuals’ ability to work and calls for tailored support to address this issue effectively.

Nil Güzelgün from the mental health charity Mind highlights the urgent need for mental health support, particularly in light of the 1.9 million people on waiting lists for NHS mental health treatment. She stresses the importance of offering tailored support from experts to facilitate individuals’ return to work.

Responding to the data, a spokesperson from the DWP emphasized their welfare reforms aimed at providing personalized support and enabling individuals to try work without fear of losing benefits. However, concerns remain regarding the adequacy of mental health support and the effectiveness of existing measures in addressing the challenges faced by those unable to work due to health issues.

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