Unskilled workers are more likely to suffer mental illness, report says


UNSKILLED people are six times more likely than managers or employers to end up in a psychiatric hospital. They are also more likely to be readmitted for treatment, a report issued by the Health Research Board has shown.

The report provides information on the activities of the inpatient psychiatric service. There has been a 70 per cent increase in admissions of young males under 15 years.

Those in the semi-skilled manual group were shown to have the highest rate for first-time admissions and were followed by salaried employees.

Men in the unskilled category were three times more likely to receive hospital treatment than women.

In the North Western Health Board area, people in this category had an admission rate more than twice the national rate. The area had the highest rate of psychiatric admissions overall.

In 1995 there were 26,440 psychiatric admissions. It continued the trend of small but steady decreases in admissions over the last five years. Of those, more than a quarter were first-time admissions.

The steady increase in admissions from the 1970s to mid 1980s appears to have stopped. It reached a peak in 1986 when 29,392 were admitted.

More than 25 per cent of admissions were attributed to depression, followed by schizophrenia and alcohol disorders.

More than a tenth were not voluntary, well over half of them males.

More than 50 per cent of all, including first-time admissions, were male, continuing the increasingly visible trend of more numerous male admissions. Those in the 45-54 age group have the highest rate of admission. However, the largest increase by age group was for those in the youngest category, under 15 years, which increased by over 70 per cent, mainly male, although the report emphasised that the numbers in this category are small.

Those Who are widowed or single are particularly vulnerable since 1994 there has been a decrease in all admission rates for married people but an increase for those who are single.

"An interesting interaction between marital status and gender has also been observed for many years, in that married females have a higher rate of admission than single females and married males have the lowest admission rate of all, being half that of widowed males," said the report.

Most admissions were short, less than two weeks, showing a considerable change in practice over the past 30 years. Seventy per cent of admissions in 1995 lasted less than one month.