Friday, February 05, 2016

Growth in psych conditions in the welfare system

Here's a tidy illustration of a phenomenon I occasionally blog about; the growing incidence of benefit dependence due to psychiatric or psychological conditions.

The blue line is the old sickness benefit; the green line, the invalid benefit.

The total number at June 2015 was 53,611.

At March 1999 the total was 24,194.

A 121% increase compared to a total population increase of around 21%.

More sickness? More diagnosis? Whatever the driver, it's actually a problem for the Ministry of Health to address yet its MSD that bears the budgetary implications.


JC said...

Just feeling my way here..

If you had a magical country which govt said that due to natural wealth there was sufficient to pay every citizen at least $100,000 pa and there was absolutely no need for anyone to work.. how many would still want to work?

If everyone knew that even a trifling bit of neglect reported would result in overwhelming sympathy and love would there be an increase in the number of cases of alleged neglect?

If you spend decades removing the shame from mental illness and offer rewards for reporting it will you get more of it?

In other words I'm suggesting you'll get more of damn near anything if you remove shame and offer rewards and I think that's what has progressively happened with psych, sexual abuse, disability etc. Also these areas really don't have hard and fast cut off points where you can say they are trivial and not worth consideration; once alleged there's a process that follows that usually rewards the victim in some way.

My guess is that humans had spent a very long time building resistance and resilience into themselves in order to survive and remain productive but that now in this rich and relatively pampered existence of ours we see staunchness as less necessary and even counterproductive.. afterall.. what what health workers and activists and advocates and even politicians do if we were tougher and more independent?


macdoctor said...

As WINZ tightens up on work availability for those with physical disabilities, more and more are exaggerating there concomitant mental health symptoms and getting their doctor to sign off on it. It is almost impossible for a GP to determine work-readiness in someone with a mental illness. You are entirely reliant on what the patient tells you as there are no objective tests.

S. Beast said...

Fact: Our mental health system takes on average 6 months to get someone into treatment with a clinical psychologist (for example). It may take another couple of months for the psychologist to assess and diagnose, and many more months for support services to be put in place.

This is just one type of example. Frankly you could spend 2 out of 5 years in the mental health system just waiting for referrals.

It's been like this for years.

Fact: There is a researched link between time spent on a benefit and mental decline (not sure about if it is part time work with partial benefit dependency but I'd say both are damaging if for no other reason the level of stress dealing with Work and Income causes).

Therefore unless and until we improve the speed at which we treat people we can continue to see increases in benefit dependency.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Yes, I am familiar with that research

and I agree with your prediction.