Depression beneficiaries double in five years

The number of people receiving the sickness benefit due to depression has more than doubled in the past five years.

Figures issued by National's welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins show the number of people getting a sickness benefit for depression has risen from 2300 in 2002 to 7500 now.

The number receiving an invalid's benefit for depression had also climbed by 65 per cent over the period to 4165.

Another 5817 people are receiving the sickness benefit for stress – but that is down from March last year when 7468 were in that category, according to figures released by Ms Collins at the time.

But Ms Collins said the depression figures were concerning.

"The longer people are on benefits the more likely they are to lose the basic confidence they need to participate in the workplace.

"This is a vicious circle and particularly damaging for people who are already stressed and depressed."

She said the Government was letting too many people languish on the sickness benefit and more regular assessments were needed.

However, last year the Government announced an additional $27.7 million over four years to help sickness and invalid's beneficiaries back to work.