Mental Health Statistics, Facts, and Figures

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The frequency of mental health problems is well documented statistically. However, these figures need to be treated with some caution.

Often widely differing figures will be given for the same mental health problem, making it difficult to determine exactly how common it is. This is partly because these figures are not always measuring the same thing. For example, in order to reflect the fact that mental health is not fixed but likely to change over time, a variety of different figures are used. The most common are:

Prevalence: this measures the number of people with a particular diagnosis at a given time.

Lifetime prevalence: this measures the number of people who have experienced a particular mental health problem at any time in their lives.

Incidence: this measures the number of new cases of a particular mental health problem that appear in a given time period.

Often these figures are compared to provide further information about a mental health problem. For example, comparing the number of new cases, (the incidence) with the number who are ill at any one time (the prevalence) can give us a rough idea of the average amount of time a mental health problem is likely to last.

Another important factor is the kind of sample used to arrive at a particular figure. Often the number of people treated by health professionals is used to determine how common a mental health problem is. However, this is likely to ignore all those who have not come into contact with services. Furthermore, psychiatric diagnosis is often far from straightforward – a person’s diagnosis may be changed several times in the course of their treatment. An alternative is to take a sample of the whole population and interview people, according to a standard set of criteria, to see if they have a mental health problem. This approach, known as a community survey, although expensive and time consuming, is usually the most reliable.


  • Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.
  • Mental health and behavioural problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and drug use) are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds.
  • Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.
  • It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem.


  • Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.
  • 4-10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.
  • Common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are distributed according to a gradient of economic disadvantage across society. The poorer and more disadvantaged are disproprotionately affected by common mental health problems and their adverse consequences.
  • Mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.
  • One adult in six had a common mental disorder.


  • In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female.
  • Between 2003 and 2013, 18,220 people with mental health problems took their own life in the UK.
  • Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales.
  • One person in fifteen had made a suicide attempt at some point in their life.


  • For every £1 spent on early intervention psychosis teams that work with young people in their first episode of schizophrenia, £18 is saved.
  • Aerobic exercise, such as using the treadmill, walking or cycling, performed for 30-40 minutes, three times a week for at least a 12 week period, was effective at improving mental health outcomes in people with schizophrenia.
  • The average per person cost of lost employment (including service costs) due to schizophrenia and related conditions for those aged 45-64 is estimated at £19,078, while costs for those aged 15-44 were just under £30,000.


  • Since 1974, the number and proportion of older people in the UK population (aged 65 and older) has grown by 47%, making up nearly 18% of the total population in 2014. The number of people aged 75 and over has increased by 89%over this period and now makes up 8% of the population.
  • Depression affects around 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 years and over2, yet it is estimated that 85% of older people with depression receive no help at all from the NHS.
  • It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia worldwide was 44 million, and this was predicted to double by 2030.
  • It has been estimated that the total cost of dementia in the UK is £26.3 billion, with an average cost of £32,250 per person.


The last national morbidity survey for children and young people’s mental health was carried out in 2004. At that time, one in ten children and young people aged between five and 16 were reported as having a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder. Four per cent had an emotional disorder (anxiety or depression), 6 per cent had a conduct disorder, 2 per cent had a hyperkinetic disorder and 1 per cent had a less common disorder such as autism. Two per cent of children had more than one type of disorder.

Around half of looked-after children are reported to have emotional or behavioural difficulties.

One third of children and young people in contact with the criminal justice system have been looked after.

In 2013/14 there were 51,000 referrals of 15–19-year-olds to psychological therapies, with referrals for young women double the number of referrals for young men.

New referrals to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services for under 18s show an upward trend, as illustrated below. There were 3,372 inpatient admissions under the child and adolescent psychiatry speciality (main speciality) in 2014/15, of which 1,260 were emergency admissions.

Under the child and adolescent psychiatry speciality there were a total of 261,475 outpatient attendances in 2014/15 (treatment speciality by attendance type).

(Source PDF)


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