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Stress, anxiety and depression benefit claims on the rise

Stress, anxiety and depression benefit claims on the rise

Monday 04 November 2019

Stress, anxiety and depression benefit claims on the rise


Islanders took over 106,000 days off due to stress, anxiety and depression last year, costing the government more than £3million in incapacity allowance claims.

It comes amid a surge in claims for the conditions, which have increased by 15% over the last four years, reaching 2,915 last year.

Short Term Incapacity Allowance (STIA) claims for stress, anxiety and depression represented a total of 106,188 sick days in 2018, over 8,000 more than in 2014.

The figures, which were recently released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) law showed that there were a total of 2,524 claims for over 97,570 days five years ago.

While those numbers slightly dropped over the following two years, they rose again in 2017 to 2,736 claims for a total of 103,953 sick days - the highest numbers to date.

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Pictured: The table shows the number of STIA claims for Depression, Stress and Anxiety received between 2014 to 2018.

In 2018, the number of claims rose again, reaching 2,915 claims and a total of 106,188 days. This cost the government approximately £3.2 million in STIA claims.

STIA claims are a type of benefit which may be paid if someone cannot work due to illness or injury and it is confirmed by a doctor who issues a medical certificate.

The daily rate for STIA claims was £29.93 until the end of October 2018 when it went up to £30.98. It now stands at £31.79.

Not everyone is paid the full rate. The Social Security Department will look at an islander’s contributions to see how much of that amount they are entitled to. Those who have not paid enough contributions for the relevant quarter would only be entitled to a third or two thirds of the full rate.

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Pictured: To receive the full amount of benefits, islanders need to have paid enough contributions in the relevant quarter.

 

It is unclear how many, if any, of the claims relate to the same individuals. 

 

Almost a quarter (22%) of adults scored their anxiety levels as high (six or more out of ten) in the 2018 Jersey Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, with 13% and 24% ranking their anxiety either medium or low. 41% of those surveyed reported feeling very low anxiety.

While mental health charity Mind Jersey does not collect specific data on why islanders seek help, Executive Director James Le Feuvre said there was "no doubt" the number of islanders in need was "growing".

 

He explained: “This is probably as a result of a number of factors. We recognise that many people lead very busy lives and are under considerable pressure, often juggling competing demands. These can include things going on in their personal lives with family or friends; caring duties or worries about work or finances.

 

“Any one of these factors, and even more so if they come together, can cause stress, anxiety or depression. We know that in any given year one in four of the population will develop some form of mental illness.”

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Pictured: James Le Feuvre, Executive Director of Mind Jersey.

However, Mr Le Feuvre says the increase in anxiety, stress and depression claims do not necessarily mean more people are experiencing these conditions. “[It] may also be because, at last, people might be more able to talk about how they are feeling and come forward seeking help.

“We know that prevention is better than cure and that low intensity early interventions can make a significant difference to outcomes.”

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