Mental Health Disability Claims Continue to Climb


According to new research by Joanna Moncrieff and Sebastião Viola, mental health problems have become the leading cause of disability claims in the UK. While the overall number of claims for other conditions has decreased by 35%, claims related to “mental disorders” have increased 103% since 1995.

“The rising levels of people claiming disability benefits indicate our modern approach to mental health problems isn’t working. Far from helping people towards a meaningful recovery, we are persuading people they are chronically sick,” Moncrieff said. “Ever increasing prescriptions of antidepressants, antipsychotics and other drugs designed for mental disorders do not improve functioning, they merely remind people on a daily basis of their incapacity.”

Using data from the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK, Viola and Moncrieff “examined changes in the prevalence of claims attributable to mental disorders.” They found that “mental disorders” are now the leading cause of medical disorder claims in the UK, accounting for nearly 50% of all applications. Approximately two-thirds of all claims for “mental disorders” were attributed to disorders associated with depression and anxiety.

“Although the total number of people claiming state benefits for sickness and disability in the UK has declined since 2003, the number of people claiming benefits because of a mental disorder has been rising steadily, with current numbers at approximately 1.1 million.”

The researchers note that past studies have found that the highest rates of these mental-health related claims occur in regions of the UK that have “suffered the greatest levels of industrial decline.”  Observing this correlation, some experts argue that disability claims may include people willing to work but relying on the claims as unemployment in the absence of job opportunities. The current study did not, however, find a trend between unemployment rates and mental health related claims.

This finding leads the authors to suggest that there are “likely to be other drivers for the dramatic divergence in claims for mental disorders compared with other conditions in recent years.” Decreasing stigma and increased awareness of mental health problems may be fueling the rise in diagnoses, for example. The increase in the number of people who have mental health issues and are uninvolved in the workforce may have “individual as well as social costs,” they write.

“Work has been shown to be beneficial for mental health, and people with severe mental disorders who find secure employment show improvements in symptom levels, self-esteem, social disability and quality of life.”

The claims also present a significant burden on social resources. The costs are driven by more common symptoms associated with depression and anxiety rather than less common symptoms associated with psychosis or schizophrenia. The researchers also draw the correlation between the rising prescription rates of antidepressants and the increasing disability claims over the same period.

“The increasing use of all types of drugs for mental disorders, and especially antidepressants, in England since the 1990s does not appear to have ameliorated the rising trends in disability claims for these conditions,” they add.

Reflecting on the study, Moncrieff told Mad In America:

“One of the ways our current approach is wrong is that we are looking for the problem in the individual- inside the brain. Instead we need to ask what it is about our society that means that so many people feel too unhappy, worried or mentally frail to work. Having a ‘decent’ job is an incredibly important part of people’s lives, and most people want one. A good job provides confidence, purpose and social contact. But fewer and fewer ‘decent’ jobs exist, especially at the unskilled end of the jobs market. Working in a highly demanding, insecure and competitive environment is bad for everyone. Rising disability benefits are a sign that we need to do something about modern employment conditions, and to provide more people with mental health problems the opportunity to work in a supportive and accommodating environment.”


Viola, S., & Moncrieff, J. (2016). Claims for sickness and disability benefits owing to mental disorders in the UK: trends from 1995 to 2014. British Journal of Psychiatry Open2(1), 18-24. (Full text)


  1. Well of course disability numbers keep climbing, one so called “manic episode” in any western country inevitably leads to a “diagnosis” and the lifetime of disabling pills that go with it.

    I am ashamed and embarrassed that I was a victim of the psycho pharmaceutical industry for as long as I was.

    Long story short I had a complaint of insomnia and anxiety and fell for the whole low serotonin marketing lie in the late 90s. SSRIs then benzos then I “have” ADD and some stimulants then the result of all this was labeled bipolar and I am handed a sample bottle of Zyprexa compliments of the cockroaches at Eli Lilly and Co. The doctor never said bipolar, he was smart enough to know I would reject that cause I am not but my medical records from the hospitals after the psychiatric drug combos landed me in emergency rooms had manic and “bipolar” written all over them although I know an anxiety attack from so called mania.

    Why am I not still disabled and in psychiatric wasteland stuck on pills ? I read books like Anatomy of an Epidemic and the Myth of the Chemical Cure and was like WTF that’s how this works ??!!! I needed rehab and all that and I refused to let them push pills at me no matter how they tried.

    I will never forget the “doctor” at the very last rehab who offered me Abilify after I stated that sitting still in the chairs in group for an hour was difficult for me.

    Excuse me Abilify , number one side effect Akathisia after I just complained of Akathisia !!???

    Its crazy what goes on in the mental health world. I was in a dozen drug rehabs before I kicked the benzos and ADHD pills and all they do is push MORE pills on everyone. I mean everyone. And until the end and discovering the medical truth I took them too, withdrawal sucks and when someone offers pills claiming to help it you take them.

    Of course in groups when the med topic came up nobody reported anything but bad side effects. No one ever said this ####ing Zoloft or what ever pill really helped I feel better no everyone bitched about side effects and the doctor.

    I was one of those “find the right meds” people. I was a sucker.

    Find the right meds… No you need to find the truth about psychiatry otherwise chances are you are going to be disabled and dependent on pills for the rest of your life.

    So next time you are checking into a rehab with that big zip-lock bag full of prescriptions ask yourself if last time they loaded you up on pills and you are back why am I going to let them do it again.

    If you are getting admitted to the hospital again ask yourself what are they going to do different this time ???

    Ask yourself why you weren’t going to rehabs and psych hospitals BEFORE you ever took psychiatric drugs ??

    Then maybe you will find your way out of the trap.

    Report comment

    • They don’t listen to us. You don’t know how many times doctors have injected me with Haldol. The thing is that it makes me loopy, crazy and do activities like undress. They’re always like, “schizophrenia.” I tell them over and over again.

      You should have heard me squeal when it took 6 people to hold me down. Not Haldol.

      In other news, I’ve had a lobotomy, and my state of mind is unpleasant. The feelings that I get greatly disturb me. I have to be drugged to keep the somatic stuff at bay. I’m on latuda, Cogentin, Prozac and prolixin.

      I also tried to kill myself, which complicated matters.

      My mind is ruined, however. Now I have to wait for them to fix me in the future. In the meantime, I provide jobs for people. It’s the trickle down effect. kididng

      Report comment

  2. They’ve made it a market in the states. Now it’s cool to have a mental disorder, especially if you’re a worthless artist. Pop them pills. Pay no bills.

    A lot of mental disorders come from self-centered vanity. Our psychiatrists are worthless.

    I have spent a while studying social engineering. I think it would be best if we put the stigma back. The US has tried to put out beacons, like Breaking Benjamin (death/demon agent). He follows the “lost.” The problem is that many people think the interpretation of art is personal. They’ve obviously failed literature classes – among other things.

    It’s annoying because if you find out what they’re doing, that is also a sin, so there is literally no point in them even “catching” failing people or trying to motivate them. Ask Marilyn Manson in the “New *hit.”

    Report comment

    • “The increase in the number of people who have mental health issues and are uninvolved in the workforce may have ‘individual as well as social costs,’ they write.”

      “Now it’s cool to have a mental disorder, especially if you’re a worthless artist.”

      Personally, I think one of the reasons I was attacked by “mental health” practitioners, at the request of a pastor, was because I’d turned down a job offer to manage money for my child abuse covering up ex-religion, a volunteer activity my father had participated in, although I’m certain my dad had no idea that religion had turned itself into a child abuse covering up organization.

      And instead, I was working on my art portfolio, raising my children, and was an active volunteer, thus seemingly to doctors, “uninvolved in the workforce” – or as described in my medical records, by doctors who didn’t ask me what I do for a living, “unemployed.”

      It seems quite obvious to me that the “mental health” practitioners intentionally target artists and stay at home moms – those seemingly “uninvolved in the workforce.” They apparently believe raising children, being an active volunteer, and working as an artist are “irrelevant to reality” activities. In reality, my work includes hopes of long run potential profits, rather than short term profits only, and of course hopes my children would benefit from having a stay at home mother.

      And I will point out, my children are both doing very well, both have almost a 4.0 in their respective schools. Whereas my psychiatric practitioners’ children are drugged, and not doing so well. And my psychologist’s child abuser friends, for whose crimes I was drugged to cover up, their children are not doing too well either. Two out of three of their children were arrested prior to the age of 21 … “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”

      Although, as a “worthless artist,” I didn’t find it “cool” to have a “mental disorder.” Personally, I believe those who create things add value to society, and those who only create “mental illnesses” in other people with drugs, are the “worthless.” Actually, I think the psychiatrists are less than worthless, they’re currently functioning as a cancer on all of humanity.

      As to why there are so many disability claims, I’m quite certain it’s because the ADHD drugs and antidepressants create the “bipolar” and “schizophrenia” symptoms. And the “bipolar” drug cocktails create “psychosis,” via anticholinergic toxidrome, which gets misdiagnosed as “bipolar” or “the classic symptoms of schizophrenia.” The DSM is a description of the iatrogenic illnesses the psychiatric drugs create, not a description of genetic illnesses.

      “They don’t listen to us. You don’t know how many times doctors have injected me with Haldol.” This happened to me, too. The second time I was medically unnecessarily shipped a long distance to one psychiatrist, I told her I was allergic to her drugs, and it was against my religious beliefs to take them. She injected me anyway, at which point I asked if anyone there spoke English, then started punching myself in the chest, as a protest of the chemical rape.

      One “mental health” worker claimed she’d never seen such a bad reaction to an antipsychotic. So I was not forced to take more antipsychotics. But I was force treated for a medically provable non-existant UTI, with a very powerful antibiotic, known to cause “psychosis,” and other serious psychiatric side effects.

      I do believe the US psychiatrists feel it is their right to defame, force medicate, and profit from, creating “mental illnesses” in all those who are not working only for short term profits, in other words, not functioning as a slave for today’s fiscally irresponsible Federal Reserve bankers.

      Report comment

  3. Perhaps this effect has to do with the rise of social media. People become unemployable because their mental illness can not be hidden from view anymore. This causes a feedback loop where a person is repeatedly injured by rejection thus aggravating and perpetuating their condition.

    Report comment

  4. Psychiatry is undoubtedly part of the problem. Labels, pills, disempowering people/”patients”. There was a book back in the day, about how psychologists and counselors create victims. I think that is true of Mental Health, Inc. as a whole. Counselors work with shrinks who work with therapists who work with hospitals…the end result is a web of brain damage, lost hope, shattered dreams, lost potential, and wasted money. This, of course, is blamed on an “illness” or, many times, the person/”patient” for any number of reasons…”personality disorder,” manipulative, uncooperative, non-compliant, malingering, etc.

    I think another part of the problem is that the economy has tanked and people are, understandably, checking out of “the system,” whether its a conscious maneuver or not. Jobs now are not steady, wages have fallen, stress levels are higher, worker protections have eroded. Society, of course, does not care. I think “mental illness,” right now at least, is keeping the whole thing (somewhat) steady. The problems are socioeconomic, political in nature–“The personal is political”–but they manifest themselves in individuals, in families, in communities (particularly “sick” communities). Labeling the individual and then blaming the brain and throwing some $$$ towards the “sick” person’s upkeep is an expensive way to maintain stability. If you don’t fit in, if you’re not a good worker bee, if you can’t keep up, if your life seems hopeless and meaningless…you’re “sick.” “Sick” people under-perform or can’t keep up at all, so here’s some $$$. Stay “sick,” you keep getting the money. Have the audacity to get better…you’re on your own. Only the “truly sick” get the bread crumbs.

    Report comment

  5. Of course disability rates keep rising, psychiatric drugs are disabling by design.

    So think about it, your really struggling maybe homeless and jobless and all this stress leads to say drinking and a mental health breakdown. You have a whole mess of problems, they can be anything relationships death of loved one a big pile … and you just loose it and end up being treated inpatient.

    What does it usually take to solve problems ?

    Motivation, higher reasoning and creativity.

    What functions do psychiatric drugs disable ? Motivation higher reasoning and creativity.

    Mental Health Disability Claims Continue to Climb because psychiatric treatment is disabling. Thats how it works, the condition they call “better” the apathy indifference and lack of creativity is the disability itself.

    Then if you figure out psychiatry’s disable you and call it better scam and attempt to get off the drugs you have all kinds of withdrawal reactions insomnia anxiety racing thoughts worse than during your crisis and nausea vomiting too and if you go for help with these reactions they are used as proof that you are sick and “need’ to be on the disabling drugs. I lived it.

    But nothing changes, thousands of people are having a crisis and being admitted to hospitals today to be disabled and have the psychiatric nightmare inflicted on them.

    What do you mean the treatment is making people worse ?

    “That’s the way we always done it”

    Report comment

    • And this,

      I have seen the disability machine in action. After psychiatry turned me into a drug addict, Clonopin and ADHD drugs and twisted me up with the other stuff I went to treatment at one of these places that does the usual, disable the heck out of everyone with psychiatric drugs. I figured it out, FU and your pills.

      So I am in their sober living and all the complaint pill takers just sat in the apartments in front of their TVs on bright sunny days, used their EBT cards to buy food to sit and eat wile they sat in front of their TVs on bright sunny days.

      You guys want to go to the beach ? Its Saturday and its awesome out.

      No I have to do laundry and I am watching something…

      Its just disgusting how psychiatry can rip the life out of people.

      Report comment

  6. Robert Whitaker pointed this all out in 2010 with Anatomy of an Epidemic but I’m glad that someone like Joanna Moncrieff is doing studies to substantiate what he talked about. Of course the rate keeps going up when psychiatrists tell people that they have an “incurable illness” for the rest of their lives! And then you add the problem of the toxic drugs, which more often cause what they are supposed to help. Of course they don’t cure anything since there’s no disease to begin with. And of course, you have the wonderful DSM-5 which just spreads the net wider and wider to catch as many people as can be caught and thrown into the system. It’s amazing that more people don’t wake up to all of this bologna and bull feces!

    Report comment

  7. Am I hearing, first from transgender persons, that finally the Psych. Profession is helping them claim their just place in society, & then, a change in the thread to nearly total disrespect for the Mental Health Physicians who come to “know just how to fix you” with their arsenal of labels, medications, and procedures ?
    Having studied Psych., worked 5 years in a Psych. Inpatient Hospital, personally occasionally visited Drs. & medications for generalized anxiety, depression & symptoms labeled ADD, and lastly placed several of my own children on ADHD Rxs at the direction of their teachers’ & Drs’, I am resolved that it is a very slippery slope! Helping Professionals are only human. They mean well but it is a self fulling prophesy: # of prescriptions written equates in their minds with how wonderfully helpful they are. Of course, this correalates with how dependent the client becomes & ultimately how much money rolls in. And, the client is asking for a “fix”!

    I am now aged out of some of life’s stresses & so glad to have escaped this medical pitfall that snares so many individuals. Always, avoiding Rx when possible, I had numerous prescriptions over the years & except for having come across the cautionary work of Robert Whitaker, I may have yet been prone to try some kind of Rx support. After all, the ads & media are promising “fixes”.
    May we each strive to be strong and complete in our natural state. Build social support networks and treat one another lovingly. Kind words are healing!

    Report comment