for better mental health

Mental health facts and statistics

Key facts on how many people experience mental health problems, suicidal feelings and self-harm. Includes stats on risk factors and availability of treatment.

How common are mental health problems?

  • 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England [1].
  • 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England [2].

Specific diagnoses

In any given week in England [2]:

A person's diagnosis may change several times during their life. Some complex conditions are measured by how many people will be given this diagnosis over the course of their lifetime, or in any given year:

But estimates for these diagnoses can vary quite a lot. Also, personality disorder and schizophrenia are controversial diagnoses. These labels can be stigmatising. And many people feel that they shouldn't be used at all.

Suicidal thoughts and self-harm

Suicidal thoughts and self-harm aren’t mental health diagnoses. But they are related to mental health. Over the course of someone’s lifetime [2]:

Women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and make suicide attempts than men [2]. But men are 3 times more likely to take their own life than women [4].

Caution on these figures

The 2014 survey that many of these figures come from only looked at people who were:

  • aged 16 and over
  • living in private housing
  • living in England (data wasn’t collected in Wales).

This excludes lots of groups of people. For example, these figures do not include people who are:

  • in hospitals
  • in prisons
  • in sheltered housing
  • homeless or rough sleeping.

So the true numbers are probably higher than these figures show.

We’ve rounded the figures to the nearest whole number. You can find more detail in the original study [2].

How many people get treatment?

Reports from both England [2] and Wales [3] suggest that:

  • Approximately only 1 in 8 adults with a mental health problem are currently getting any kind of treatment. 
  • The most common treatment offered is psychiatric medication[2].

Are mental health problems increasing?

The overall number of people reporting mental health problems has been going up in recent years.

  • The amount of people with common mental health problems went up by 20% between 1993 to 2014, in both men and women [2].
  • The percentage of people reporting severe mental health symptoms in any given week rose from 7% in 1993, to over 9% in 2014 [2].
  • The number of young women reporting common mental health problems has been going up [2].

Suicide and self-harm on the rise

Overall reported suicide numbers have also gone up in England and Wales since 2018. They had been going down before that.

This is partly because in 2018 the rules changed around recording causes of death. So more deaths are now being recorded as suicide, whereas before they might have been recorded as something else.

But there has still been a clear increase in the number of men and the number of people under 25 taking their own life since 2018 [4].

We also know that:

  • People reporting self-harm went up by 62% between the years 2000–2014 (that means it more than doubled) [2].
  • People reporting having had suicidal thoughts within the past year went up by 30% between the years 2000–2014 [2].
  • The number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is rising faster than the number of people experiencing mental health problems overall [2].

This might mean that people are finding it harder to cope with mental health problems.

Who’s most affected by mental health problems?

Anyone can get a mental health problem. But we know that some groups are more likely to get them than others.

These include:

  • People who identify as LGBTIQ+. LGBTIQ+ people are between 2–3 times more likely than heterosexual people to report having a mental health problem in England [5].
  • Black or Black British people. 23% of Black or Black British people will experience a common mental health problem in any given week. This compares to 17% of White British people [2].
  • Young women aged 16-24. Over a quarter (26%) of young women aged between 16–24 years old report having a common mental health problem in any given week. This compares to 17% of adults. And this number has been going up [2].
  • Around 40% of people in England who have overlapping problems including homelessness, substance misuse and contact with the criminal justice system in any given year also have a mental health problem [6]. (This is sometimes called facing ‘multiple disadvantage’.)

It's important to know that your identity does not give you mental health problems. Causes of mental health problems can be very complicated. Higher risk for these groups is linked to several factors [7][8], including:

  • facing social inequality and disadvantage
  • facing discrimination and social exclusion
  • going through traumatic experiences
  • differences in physical health. 

Mind's equality improvement work

At Mind, we believe that every mental health service provider should make sure their services are accessible and inclusive to all.

We're working to remove inequality of opportunity in the mental health sector. Find out about our equality improvement work.

  1. McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.
  2. McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016). Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014.
  3. Welsh Health Survey 2015: Health status, illness, and other conditions.
  4. Samaritans (2019), Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report. 
  5. Journal of General Internal Medicine (2015), Sexual Minorities in England Have Poorer Health and Worse Health Care Experiences: A National Survey. 
  6. Lankelly Chase Foundation (2015) Hard Edges: Mapping severe and multiple disadvantage.
  7. Public Health England (2017), Better mental health: JSNA toolkit: 2. Mental health: Environmental factors.
  8. Marmot, M., et al (2010), Fair society, healthy lives: Strategic review of health inequalities in England post 2010.

This information was published in June 2020. We will update it in 2023.

If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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