The government has planned to alter citeria for jobless benefit claimants to reflect the growing impact of stress and mental illness under reforms being unveiled this week.
Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton aims at getting a million people off benefit and into work following the publishing of his Welfare Reform Bill.
The Bill will include updating the personal capability assessment which is used to decide whether claimants are fit to work. Measures to update the assessment is to allow more severely disabled people who have no obligation to look for work to receive a higher rate of benefit.
However claimants assessed as able to work would have to take part in initiatives, such as counselling, advice and training designed to help them back into jobs. Refusal to take part in these schemes could result in loss of certain benefits.
According to the Department of Work and Pensions spokeswoman, the proportion of people off work due to depression, anxiety and stress had risen significantly since the test was developed more than 20 years ago.