Many people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and most of us know at least one person who has been affected by a mental health condition at some point in their life. Every week there are reports in the media covering many aspects of mental health. Health policies attempting to address these many and varied issues have been introduced in all four countries across the UK in recent years. This review aims to look across the spectrum of mental health statistics and explore whether the statistical system is providing the information required to support individuals and policy makers.

What we plan to do and why

This project is intended to explore the extent to which statistics on mental health are able to answer the key questions that surround this area in society today. We want to understand users’ needs in relation to mental health statistics, and examine whether the statistics that are currently available meet these needs.

We want to see producers in all parts of the UK improve the trustworthiness, quality and value of their statistics on mental health so that they achieve parity with statistics about physical health, NHS performance and outputs. This is detailed in our work programme for 2019/20.

How we will do it

As each of the UK’s countries has separate policies on mental health, the review is taking a phased approach, looking at the statistics produced in each country in turn. We have begun with England as it is the largest in terms of the volume and complexity of mental health statistics that are published.

The scope of mental health statistics is broad. As part of the initial scoping phase for each country we will determine the specific focus of the review. Our scoping work for England is now complete, and we are initially focusing on statistics on people’s experiences of mental health. This could include the incidence and prevalence of mental health conditions, individuals’ experiences of their mental health conditions, people’s access to services and journeys between different providers of services, and the outcomes of interventions.

Stage 1: system mapping

We have built up a picture of mental health statistics in England to help inform our understanding of what statistics relating to people’s experiences of mental health exist. To help with this we held meetings with some of the key producers of mental health statistics in England.

Stage 2: stakeholder engagement

Following on from stage 1, we have consulted with a range of statistics users who have an interest in mental health statistics in England. This stage is now complete.

Stage 3: collate findings and explore options for improvements

We are currently reviewing the evidence gathered for the England part of the review. Once this is complete we will present our findings to key stakeholders. For areas where we feel improvements are needed, we will work collectively with relevant parties to identify solutions. We aim to publish our initial findings from this first part of the review by summer 2020.

Stage 4: expand the review to other countries of the UK

Once we have published our findings for England, we will move on to examine the picture in the other countries of the UK. We will confirm the timings for each specific country in due course.


If you have any thoughts you would like to contribute to our review, please get in touch with us at the regulation team.

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