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Public Health. 2010 Dec;124(12):675-81. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2010.08.019. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Common mental disorders, unemployment and welfare benefits in England.

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Centre for Psychiatry, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, Old Anatomy Building, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK.



Individuals who are out of work have a higher rate of common mental disorders (CMD) than individuals who are employed. People who are unemployed in the UK are entitled to welfare benefits to alleviate financial strain. This study examined rates of CMD in individuals who were employed, unemployed and receiving various UK benefits. It also investigated associations between duration of unemployment, gender and CMD.


An analysis of 5090 working-age participants from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007, a stratified probability sample survey conducted among adults aged 16 years and over living in private households in England.


CMD was assessed using the Clinical Interview Schedule (Revised). Information was gathered on sociodemographics, employment, income, benefits and debt. Data were analysed using logistic regression.


Risk of CMD was significantly greater in individuals classified as: unemployed; economically inactive; not working due to physical health reasons; unable to find a suitable job; receiving housing, care or sickness benefit; and receiving income support. However, risk of CMD was not significantly greater in individuals receiving jobseeker's allowance. Individuals unemployed for less than 1 year or more than 3 years had a higher risk of CMD. Some interactions with gender were significant, with associations being greater in men than women.


Job loss events are not the only reason for unemployed people to develop CMD. The state of unemployment itself may be detrimental to mental health. Risk of CMD is increased in those who have been out of work for 3 years or more. Associations between benefits and mental health are likely to be due to social, health or economic circumstances associated with benefit eligibility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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