People with mental health problems less likely to be in work

04/09/2007 15:00

Forty percent of people with a work disability were in paid employment in 2006. This is the same proportion as in 2005, bringing the decrease observed since 2002 to a standstill. Less than one quarter of people with mental health problems had a paid job.

Employed and unemployed disabled people

Employed and unemployed disabled people

Stable percentage of work disabilities

More than 1.7 million people in the Netherlands had a work disability in 2006: they reported that because of a chronic illness or handicap they were restricted in doing or getting a job. This is the equivalent of 16 percent of the population aged 15–64 years. This percentage has been constant for years now.

Most complaints concern locomotor apparatus

Six out of ten labour disabled people suffered from more than one long-term impairment.  Complaints related to the locomotor apparatus were mentioned most often. More than half of people with a disability had back or neck pain, 38 percent had problems with their legs and 34 percent could not make full use of their arms.

Most common complaints of disabled people

Most common complaints of disabled people

Increase in mental health problems

In recent years the proportion of people unable to work because of mental health problems has increased. In 2002 23 percent of people with a disability reported these problems, in 2006 this was 25 percent, more than 400 thousand people.

People unable to work fully because of mental health problems reported that they wanted to work more often than other disabled people. But they also reported – indeed more than average – that they were not able to. Mental health problems thus seem to be a very strong restrictive factor for labour market participation.

Relatively many disabled people want to work

Four out of ten disabled people had a paid job. Two out of ten said they could not work and more than one quarter did not want to work. The number of disabled who were not in work but did want to work was relatively high, at 14 percent.

Labour market position of disabled people and disable people with mental health problems, 2006

Labour market position of disabled people and disable people with mental health problems, 2006

Lian Kösters and Hendrika Lautenbach