Top incapacity benefit claim 'is mental illness'

Mental illness has become the most common reason for people to claim incapacity benefit.

This is according to research published in Occupational Medicine, which found that musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain have been overtaken at the top of the table.

David Coggon, Medical Research Council professor of occupational medicine at Southampton General Hospital, explained that this could be because people are more aware of muscle strains and know their back pain can be treated.

"If you say you're trying to tackle hazards linked to workplace stress, it sends a message that people are exposed to 'bad things' and that affects reactions," he said.

Dr Olivia Carlton, president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, added that living off incapacity benefit can lead to individuals being affected by low self-esteem, as well as losing their identity.

She noted that this also places a large financial burden on the state to look after them.

Chartered Psychologist Emma Donaldson-Feilder said: "It is important to recognise that mental health problems are potentially costly to employers, society and the economy."

"Finding ways to support people with mental health problems to stay in or return to work is vital - and good people management is a key way of doing this."

"Employers need to work to improve managers' interpersonal skills, reduce stigma and exclusion of people with mental health problems and provide 'good jobs', the kinds of jobs that enhance employee wellbeing and engagement."

Dr Lucy Johnstone, a Clinical Psychologist with the Cwm Taf Health Board, recently stated that it is good celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones are becoming open about their mental health difficulties.