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12 Sep 2023

Mental health statistics: prevalence, services and funding in England

Mental health statistics: prevalence, services and funding in England

How common are mental health conditions?

The 2014 survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing in England found that 1 in 6 people aged 16+ had experienced symptoms of a common mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety, in the past week. Women were more likely than men to be experiencing common mental disorders. Prevalence has increased since 1993.

2% of survey respondents had ever experienced bipolar disorder, while 0.7% had experienced psychotic disorder in the past year. 4.4% of respondents screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder. Just over 5% of survey respondents reported having had suicidal thoughts in the past year. 

The most recent survey was in 2014. A new survey is due in 2023.

Two bar charts showing the prevalence of common mental disorders. The left bar chart shows a breakdown by age and sex, showing that prevalence is higher among women than men in all age groups, and also that overall prevalence is higher among those aged 16-64 than in older age groups. The right bar chart shows increases since 1993 broken down by sex.

Children’s mental health

2022 survey of children and young people’s mental health found that 18.0% of children aged 7-16 had a probable mental disorder in 2022, up from 12.1% in 2017. Among those aged 17-19, 10.1% had a probable mental disorder in 2017, rising to 25.7% in 2022. 

Depression during the coronavirus pandemic

Monitoring from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the prevalence of moderate or severe depressive symptoms among adults in Great Britain rose after the start of the pandemic.

In surveys taken between July 2019 and March 2020 prevalence was 10%, but this rose to 19% by June 2020 and 21% by January to March 2021. By September to October 2022 the proportion had fallen to 16%.

Depression and the cost of living

The ONS has monitored relationships between the prevalence of depression and the rising cost of living.

Its data shows that rates of depression were higher among those who found it hard to afford housing costs or energy bills, and higher among renters than homeowners.

The ONS notes that these relationships may not reflect causation.

Talking therapies for common mental health conditions (IAPT)

NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme (IAPT – now known as NHS Talking Thrapies) aims to provide talking therapies for working age people experiencing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It aims to treat 75% of people within 6 weeks of referral, to ensure that half of those finishing treatment recover from their condition, and it aims to reach 15% of people with common mental disorders each year. People can be referred by their GP or they can self-refer.

In 2021/22, 1.81 million people were referred to IAPT, 1.24 million entered treatment, and 688,000 finished a course of treatment. The number of referrals was a rise on the previous year (1.41 million) and 2019/20 (1.69 million).

Table showing the areas with the highest and lowest referral rates to IAPT per 1,000 population. See the downloadable data file above for full data

Source: NHS Digital, Psychological Therapies, Annual IAPT Report 2021/22. Data for all CCGs can be found in the downloadable data tables accompanying this publication (link at the top of the page).

66.5% of those referred to IAPT in 2021/22 were women, and the number of women referred outnumbered men in every local area of England.

Waiting times for talking therapies (IAPT)

91.1% of those finishing a course of IAPT treatment in 2021/22 waited less than 6 weeks for their first treatment, which is above the target of 75%. However, average waiting times for first treatment varied substantially across England, from lows of 4 days in Castle Point and Rochford (Essex) to highs of 229 days in South Sefton (Merseyside).

The average waiting time for a first treatment was 21 days while the average waiting time between first and second treatment was 50 days. The total waiting time between referral and second treatment varied from a low of 32 days in Wigan to 291 days in South Sefton.

Map showing IAPT talking therapy waiting times by local area in England. See the downloadable data file above for numbers for all areas

Source: NHS Digital, Psychological Therapies, Annual IAPT Report 2021/22. Data for all CCGs can be found in the downloadable data tables accompanying this publication (link at the top of the page).
 

Talking therapy outcomes (IAPT)

50.2% of those finishing a course of IAPT treatment moved to recovery (meaning that they were no longer classed as having a clinical case of a mental health problem), above the target of 50%. In 2021/22, recovery rates varied from 61% in West Sussex to 16% in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.

Two-thirds of people showed a reliable improvement in their condition after finishing a course of IAPT treatment. Improvement rates varied from 78% in West Sussex to 46% in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.

Recovery and improvement rates varied between social groups, with some minority groups less likely to see positive outcomes:

  • People living in more deprived areas were less likely to experience improvement or recovery after IAPT than those living in less deprived areas
  • People with disabilites were less likely to experience improvement or recovery than those without disabilities
  • People identifying as bisexual were less likely to experience improvement after IAPT than people identifying as straight
  • People in Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Mixed and Other Ethnic Groups were less likely to experience improvement and recovery after IAPT than those identifying as White British, Indian, African or Caribbean.

 

NHS secondary mental health services

NHS Digital’s Mental Health Bulletin contains statistics on people in contact with NHS-funded secondary mental health, learning disability and autism services.

It’s estimated that 3.25 million people were in contact with these services at some point during 2021/22. This is around around 5.8% of the population, varying from 14.8% of 11-15 year olds and 13.9% of 16-19 year olds to 2.7% of 65-69 year olds. These figures do not include people who are only in contact with IAPT services. 

Access to and contact with mental health services varies across the country. The highest was Hull, where 10.4% of the adult population were in contact with adult mental health services during 2021/22. The lowest was Mid Essex (3.6%).

The maps below show the percentage of people accessing services in 2021/22 by NHS area.

Maps showing the percentage of adults and children in contact with NHS mental health services in 2021/22 in England. See the downloadable data tables for full data

Source: NHS Digital, Mental Health Bulletin 2021/22. Data for all CCGs can be found in the downloadable data tables accompanying this publication (link at the top of the page).

Most of these mental health services do not have waiting time targets (unlike IAPT), meaning that data is not available on how long people wait to access them. Consultant-led mental health treatments should be recorded in the standard NHS Referral to Treatment waiting lists data. The NHS is proposing new access and waiting time standards for a range of mental health services.

Funding for mental health services

Most local mental health funding is not ring-fenced, meaning that each local NHS area determines its own mental health budget from its overall funding allocation. This means that neither the Government nor NHS England determines exactly how much funding goes to mental health services in local areas.

Spending commitments from the NHS long-term plan also include a “new ring-fenced investment fund worth at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24”.

Measuring spending

NHS England’s Mental Health Dashboard provides a national and local overview of spending on mental health services.

In 2022/23, local CCGs plan to spend £13.29 billion on mental health, learning disability and dementia services in England. This is 13.8% of the total funding allocated to CCGs for health services. NHS England plans to spend a further £2.26 billion on specialised commissioning for mental health services, for a total of £15.55 billion. This figure has risen from £12.0 billion in 2017/18.

While mental health spending is not ring-fenced, CCGs are expected to meet the ‘mental health investment standard’ (MHIS). This requires increases in local mental health spending to be at least as large, proportionally speaking, as overall increases in local funding. So, if a CCG receives a 5% increase in its funding allocation, it must increase its mental health spending by at least 5% to meet the MHIS.

NHS England says that all NHS areas have met the MHIS in the last two years.

The mental health investment standard only measures changes in spending and provides no assessment of whether spending is adequate relative to local needs and demand for services. 


Source: UK Parliament

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