Mental health statistics and trends in mental illness:
- One adult in six had a common mental disorder (CMD): about one woman in five and one man in eight. Since 2000, overall rates of CMD in England steadily increased in women and remained largely stable in men.
- Reported rates of self-harming increased in men and women and across age groups since 2007. However, much of this increase in reporting may have been due to greater awareness about the behaviour.
- Young women have emerged as a high-risk group, with high rates of CMD, selfharm, and positive screens for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. The gap between young women and young men increased.
- Most mental disorders were more common in people living alone, in poor physical health, and not employed. Claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a benefit aimed at those unable to work due to poor health or disability, experienced particularly high rates of all the disorders assessed.
Trends in treatment and service use
- One person in three with CMD reported current use of mental health treatment in 2014, an increase from the one in four who reported this in 2000 and 2007. This was driven by steep increases in reported use of psychotropic medication. Increased use of psychological therapies was also evident among people with more severe CMD symptoms.
- There were demographic inequalities in who received treatment. After controlling for level of need, people who were White British, female, or in mid-life (especially aged 35 to 54) were more likely to receive treatment. People in the Black ethnic group had particularly low treatment rates.
- Socioeconomic inequalities in treatment use were less evident, although people living in lower income households were more likely to have requested but not received a particular mental health treatment.
Mental illness is not a personal failure. In fact, if there is failure, it is to be found in the way we have responded to people with mental and brain disorders,” said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO, on releasing the World Health Report. “I hope this report will dispel long-held doubts and dogma and mark the beginning of a new public health era in the field of mental health,” she added.
The report invites governments to make strategic decisions and choices in order to bring about positive change in the acceptance and treatment of mental disorders. The report says some mental disorders can be prevented; most mental and behavioural disorders can be successfully treated; and that much of this prevention, cure and treatment is affordable. Despite the chronic and long-term nature of some mental disorders, with the proper treatment, people suffering from mental disorders can live productive lives and be a vital part of their communities. Over 80% of people with schizophrenia can be free of relapses at the end of one year of treatment with antipsychotic drugs combined with family intervention. Up to 60% of people with depression can recover with a proper combination of antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy. Up to 70% of people with epilepsy can be seizure free when treated with simple, inexpensive anticonvulsants.
A lack of urgency, misinformation, and competing demands are blinding policy-makers from taking stock of a situation where mental disorders figure among the leading causes of disease and disability in the world, says WHO. Depressive disorders are already the fourth leading cause of the global disease burden. They are expected to rank second by 2020, behind ischaemic heart disease but ahead of all other diseases.
The responsibility for action lies with governments, says WHO. Currently, more than 40% of countries have no mental health policy and over 30% have no mental health programme. Around 25% of countries have no mental health legislation.
The magnitude of mental health burden is not matched by the size and effectiveness of the response it demands. Currently, more than 33% of countries allocate less than 1% of their total health budgets to mental health, with another 33% spending just 1% of their budgets on mental health. A limited range of medicines is sufficient to treat the majority of mental disorders. About 25% of countries, however, do not have the three most commonly prescribed drugs used to treat schizophrenia, depression and epilepsy at the primary health care level. There is only one psychiatrist per 100 000 people in over half the countries in the world, and 40% of countries have less than one hospital bed reserved for mental disorders per 10 000 people.
The report says new knowledge can have a tremendous impact on how individuals, societies and the public health community deal with mental disorders. We now know that large mental institutions no longer represent the best option for patients and families. Such institutions lead to a loss of social skills, excessive restriction, human rights violations, dependency, and reduced opportunities for rehabilitation. Countries should move towards setting up community care alternatives in a planned manner, ensuring that such alternatives are in place even as institutions are being phased out.
In March 2017, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, NatCen conducted a survey amongst its panel members in England, Scotland and Wales. This aimed to understand the prevalence of self-reported mental health problems, levels of positive and negative mental health in the population, and the actions people take to deal with the stressors in their lives. 2,290 interviews were completed, with 82% online and 18% by phone.
- Nearly two-thirds of people (65%) say that they have experienced a mental health problem. This rises to 7 in every 10 women, young adults aged 18-34 and people living alone.
- Only a small minority of people (13%) were found to be living with high levels of positive mental health.
- People over the age of 55 report experiencing better mental health than average.
- People aged 55 and above are the most likely to take positive steps to help themselves deal better with everyday life – including spending time with friends and family, going for a walk, spending more time on interests, getting enough sleep, eating healthily and learning new things.
- More than 4 in 10 people say they have experienced depression
- Over a quarter of people say they have experienced panic attacks.
- The most notable differences are associated with household income and economic activity – nearly 3 in 4 people living in the lowest household income bracket report having exprienced a mental health problem, compared to 6 in 10 of the highest household income bracket.
- The great majority (85%) of people out of work have experienced a mental health problem compared to two thirds of people in work and just over half of people who have retired.
- Current levels of good mental health are disturbingly low. The barometer of success of any nation is the health and wellbeing of its people. We have a long way to go before we can say that we are a thriving nation. Although we have made great strides in the health of our bodies and our life expectancy, we now need to achieve the same for the good health of our minds.
- The survey suggests that our collective mental health is deteriorating. Overall most of us report experiencing a mental health problem in our lifetime. However, young adults report this at a higher level, despite having had fewer years in their lives to experience this. While there may be an element which reflects a greater ease at acknowledging a mental health problem, nevertheless this suggests a real and emerging problem. It is possible that it is linked to greater insecurities in life expectations for work, relationships and homes. The reasons and solutions warrant investigation.
- The figures show that the experience of poor mental health, while touching every age and demographic, is not evenly distributed. If you are female, a young adult, on low income, living alone or in a large household, your risks of facing mental ill health are higher.
Mental health needs to be taken seriously. If that isn’t working, very little else works. We can’t work, we can’t enjoy good interpersonal relationships and our physical health suffers. Ensure that you take time away from daily stress and get enough sleep and relaxation. See a professional if you are unable to stop worrying or feel consistently anxious and/or depressed.