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, which we published recently following engagement with both producers and users of statistics.

How we will do it

As each of the UK’s countries has separate policies on mental health, the review will take a phased approach, looking at the statistics produced in each country in turn. We plan to begin 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 has already begun, and we plan to initially focus 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 will build 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. This work is already underway, and we have held meetings with some of the key producers of mental health statistics in England. The aim is for this stage to be complete over the summer.

Stage 2: stakeholder engagement

Following on from stage 1, we will consult with a range of statistics users who have an interest in mental health statistics in England. This work will take place between summer and winter 2019.

Stage 3: collate findings and explore options for improvements

We will review the evidence gathered for the England part of the review and present it 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 spring 2020.

Stage 4: expansion of review to other UK countries

We will engage with users and producers of mental health statistics in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We will provide more detail regarding plans and timings for each as we progress through the project.

Taking part

If you use mental health statistics or would like to be able to use them either personally or professionally, then we would like to hear from you. Some examples of questions that you might be interested in are:

  • Are the mental health statistics that you need available?
  • Are the statistics you need easy to find?
  • Are the statisticians responsive to your needs?
  • Do I have the information I need to better plan mental health services at a local level?
  • Is young people’s mental health getting worse?

You may have many other interesting and varied feedback so please get in touch with us at the regulation team. Our initial focus is on speaking to people who want to use statistics about the outcomes of mental health care in England.

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