Mental health network

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

tablet showing graphs

Survey shows the proportion of people accessing mental health treatment has risen in recent years.

One in three adults (37 per cent) aged 16-74, with conditions such as anxiety or depression, surveyed in England, were accessing mental health treatment in 2014. This is a significant increase compared to one in four people (24 per cent) since the last survey was carried out in 2007.

These figures include more people with severe common mental health problems accessing psychological treatment, where there has been an increase from 13 per cent in 2000 to 15 per cent in 2007 and 18 per cent in 2014.

Overall, around one in six adults (17 per cent) surveyed in England met the criteria for a common mental disorder (CMD) in 2014. The report states that ‘around half of these have symptoms severe enough to warrant active intervention, and the rest would likely benefit at least from clinical recognition.’

The survey also points to an increase in young women reporting common mental health problems and the health and care system needs to do more to understand this potential gender gap.

The use of primary and community care for a mental health reason is also reported to have increased over time. People with CMD became more likely to discuss their mental health with a GP, and since 2000 there had been a slight – but steady – increase in the proportion of adults with CMD using community and day care services.


The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey - Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, England, 2014 provides statistics on the prevalence of both treated and untreated psychiatric conditions among adults aged 16 and over, in England. Today’s publication is the fourth survey of psychiatric morbidity in adults living in private households. The first survey was published in 1983.

The report features chapters on common mental disorders, mental health treatment and service use, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorder, autism, personality disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, alcohol, drugs, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and self-harm and comorbidity.

Trends in mental illness

The gender gap - Young women have emerged as a high-risk group

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.

Young women have emerged as a high-risk group, with high rates of CMD, self harm, and positive screens for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. In 2014, CMD symptoms were almost three times as commonly reported by women aged 16-24 (26 per cent) than men (9 per cent). There is some caution expressed by the authors due to a small sample size, but the pattern is consistent with other recent data sources.

Men aged 55-64 have the highest rates of registered suicide, and have been identified as a priority group in England’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy (DH 2015)

Increased rates of self harm

Reports of self harming doubled in men and women and across age groups between 2007 and 2014. This increase is thought be due to improved reporting behaviour as well as a potentially less stigmatizing environment enabling more people to disclose self-harm. It is also possible that increased reporting of self-harm reflects a real increase in the behaviour.

Mental health problems disproportionately affect those who face more deprivation

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

Increased access to mental health treatment

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.

Medication was the most common form of mental health treatment for all conditions assessed within the survey and was reported as being taken by 10 per cent of all people interviewed.

There is a positive trend with more people with severe common mental health problems accessing psychological treatment. There has been an increase from 13 per cent in 2000 to 15 per cent in 2007 and 18 per cent in 2014.

Demographic and socio economic inequalities

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.

People living in lower income households were more likely to have requested but not received a particular mental health treatment.

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