The epic scale of mental health problems in England has been exposed today as new figures revealed almost half of adults have experienced mental illness at some stage in their lives.
One in four people have been diagnosed with depression and other mental health conditions while a further 18 per cent experienced symptoms but were not officially diagnosed, today’s statistics showed.
Mental health charities have slammed the soaring number of patients being detained under the Mental Health Act as a ‘shocking’.
More women than men have been diagnosed with depression and there was also a higher proportion of women with serious mental health disorders.
The poll found half of those diagnosed with a common mental health disorder, such as panic attacks and anxiety disorders, had experienced symptoms in the last 12 months.
Mental illness was more prevalent in those from lower income backgrounds and deprived areas, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) study found.
More than 5,000 adults were asked by nurses about their mental health experiences as part of the annual Health Survey for England.
The key findings of the survey include:
- 26 per cent of all adults reported having ever been diagnosed with at least one mental illness
- A further 18 per cent of adults reported having experienced a mental illness but not having been diagnosed
- Women were more likely than men to report ever having been diagnosed with a mental illness (33 per cent compared to 19 per cent)
- Depression was the most common to be diagnosed with 19 per cent of adults (13 per cent of men, 24 per cent of women
- More women (seven per cent) than men (four per cent) said they had attempted suicide
Two fifths of respondents, 40 per cent of men and 39 per cent of women, who had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness also said that they also had a long standing physical or mental illness.
This compared to 16 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women who had never been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, said urgent action was needed.
‘These are shocking figures, all the more so because the scale of mental illness is already known but too often ignored,’ she said.
They highlight the astonishing rates of depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts and attempts experienced by one in four people.
‘Sadly, mental health services have been starved of resources over the years, often leaving the needs of the many desperately ill people who contact helplines like SANE’s unmet.
‘They report that when the worst happens and they can no longer endure their mental pain there is still nowhere to turn and no safe place to find sanctuary.
‘When will the revolution in mental healthcare promised by the Government this week become a reality?’
Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, said he was pleased to see the health survey including mental health for the first time.
‘These results underline just how prevalent mental health problems really are, ‘he said.
‘They can happen to anyone at any time.
‘That’s why we not only need to talk more openly about them but also ensure that health and other services are adequately resourced to cope with demand and get people the help they need, when they need it.’
Rachel Craig, head of health surveys at NatCen Social Research, which collected the data, said: ‘This survey leaves us in no doubt as to the prevalence of mental ill health in England.
‘As many as one in four people suffer from a mental illness at some time in their lives and one in five with depression.
‘Despite it affecting so many of us, prejudice against people with a mental illness still exists and there is some resistance to the provision of community care for people suffering with mental ill health.
‘Men are more likely to hold prejudiced and less tolerant views than women. But there is evidence that if you know someone with a mental illness you are less likely to hold negative views.’
It comes just months after a shocking report revealed the number of people being sectioned has risen by 10 per cent in a year.
Charities blamed a lack of hospital beds for psychiatric care and failing community care for the sharp spike in involuntary admissions.
In the last year, 58,400 people have been detained – an increase of 5,220 on the same period in 2013/14.
The shocking rise followed reports that mental health trusts in England have seen their budgets fall by more than 8 per cent in real terms over the last five years.
Speaking to MailOnline at the time, Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said she was not surprised by the escalating problem.
‘The only way that you can receive care and treatment now is to be sectioned,’ she said.
‘In the past there used to be over 90 per cent of people in psychiatric hospitals who were voluntary.
‘Now because they have closed so many hospitals, there are so few psychiatric beds available that people are having to section themselves to get the help they need.
‘There has been a dramatic rise in self-harm, not just among young people, and suicide rates are going up.
‘This is a direct result of closures of psychiatric beds and the lack of provision.’