Generation Sicknote: How an obsession with mental health issues among 18- to ... trends now

Generation Sicknote: How an obsession with mental health issues among 18- to ... trends now
Generation Sicknote: How an obsession with mental health issues among 18- to ... trends now

Generation Sicknote: How an obsession with mental health issues among 18- to ... trends now

Britain is in the grip of an escalating crisis. Yet very few people are talking about it. Since the pandemic, and the disastrous lockdowns it sparked, an alarming trend has arisen among 18 to 30-somethings, an age group increasingly in the grip of idleness, despair and dependency on the welfare state.

Some 481,000 young people aged 16 to 24 are currently unemployed. A remarkable 280,000 young people — which is roughly the population of Milton Keynes — now rely on some form of unemployment benefit, 50,000 more than before the pandemic and nearly twice as high as the equivalent figure a decade ago.

Many readers will find these numbers ­astonishing, not least because our leaders — in an effort to provide workers — allowed net migration into the country to spiral to more than 700,000 in one year, even as young Britons lounged around at home.

In January, to help fill the almost one million job vacancies, the Treasury called for even more immigration, much of which, by the way, is low-skill, low-wage and non-selective ­migration from outside Europe.

Why can’t British young people meet the country’s need for labour?

What is holding them back? The answer lies in those two words we now hear on a daily basis: ‘mental health’. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a record 2.8 million Brits are not working because of ‘long-term sickness’, of which a mind-boggling 560,000 are aged between 16 and 34.

In a report analysing the ONS ­figures, The Health Foundation ­charity says the proportion of people not working because of mental health issues has almost doubled in 11 years, from more than six per cent in 2012 to 12.7 per cent in 2023.

In the absence of work, Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) are a financial lifeline to those who suffer a physical or mental illness.

The most dependent ­claimants can get a ­maximum of £691 every four weeks, which is on top of other financial support they might receive such as housing benefit and income support.

Last year, one in three new PIP claims was for anxiety, social phobia, depression and/or stress. The rise was fastest among the under-25s.

The rampant growth of the ­therapeutic state has also encouraged a ‘culture of victimhood’

The rampant growth of the ­therapeutic state has also encouraged a ‘culture of victimhood’

As one analyst, Sam ­Ashworth-Hayes, recently noted: ‘The ­figures are truly jaw-dropping. Personal ­Independence ­Payments, formerly known as the Disability Living Allowance, currently cost the Government around £22 billion each year, with around 38 per cent of this spend going on cases related to mental health issues.’

Until recently, many of these mental health benefits had no work requirements associated with them, meaning that people who could claim some kind of mental health condition did not need to show they were looking for work.

After canvassing more than 1,000 unemployed young Britons ­exclusively for the Mail, I can reveal the gravity of this unfolding crisis for the first time.

The results, collected by my firm People Polling, paint a bleak picture of Britain’s crisis of idleness and how, in my view, we’re setting up an entire generation to fail.

Of the unemployed young people between 18 and 30 who made up our sample, some 40 per cent said they had been out of work for a year or longer.

And 44 per cent depended on welfare benefits to survive. How that contributes to their sense of purpose and meaning, and the dignity of their lives, I cannot fathom.

Some of the young Brits surveyed were carers, students or full-time parents. But a truly shocking 49 per cent of respondents, almost half, pointed to ‘mental health issues’ as the driving factor behind their joblessness.

No wonder they’ve been dubbed ‘Generation Sicknote’ — a cohort of young Brits whose instinctive reflex is to prioritise their mental wellbeing above getting on with life.

When we asked these young Brits to say, in their own words, why they are not in work, some of the replies included:

 ‘I am unemployed because of my mental health problems.’  ‘I

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