The facts and figures around Mental Health are alarming.
• About a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the
course of a year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain
• Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men and about
ten percent of children have a mental health problem at any one time
• Depression affects 1 in 5 older people
• Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women
and self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000
• Only 1 in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder.
Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the UK and elsewhere, yet it is still
under-reported, under-diagnosed and under-treated.
The experience of anxiety often involves interconnected symptoms and disorders. It is estimated that one in
four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, while one in six experience a
neurotic disorder such as anxiety or depression. Anxiety disorders are also estimated to affect 3.3% of
children and young adults in the UK.
The prevalence of the most common forms of anxiety are given below.
• While 2.6% of the population experience depression and 4.7% have anxiety problems, as many as
9.7% suffer mixed depression and anxiety, making it the most prevalent mental health problem in the
population as a whole.
• About 1.2% of the UK population experience panic disorders, rising to 1.7% for those experiencing it
with or without agoraphobia.
• Around 1.9% of British adults experience a phobia of some description, and women are twice as
likely to be affected by this problem as men.
• Agoraphobia affects between 1.5% and 3.5% of the general population in its fully developed form; in
a less severe form, up to one in eight people experience this.
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 2.6% of men and 3.3% of women.
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD) affect around 2–3% of the population.
• Generalised Anxiety Disorder affects between 2–5% of the population, yet accounts for as much as
30% of the mental health problems seen by GPs.
Previous survey evidence suggests that:
• Although, on average, women rate their life satisfaction higher than men, their anxiety levels are
significantly higher than men.
• People in their middle years (35 to 59) report the highest levels of anxiety compared to other age
• People in the older age groups tend to be happier and less anxious.
• People with a disability are, on average, more anxious than people without a disability.
• Unemployed people report significantly higher anxiety levels than those in employment.
• People in the lowest income groups report significantly higher anxiety levels than those in the higher
• On average, all ethnic groups report higher levels of anxiety than people who describe themselves
as White British.
• Young people aged 16–24 are more likely to report lower levels of anxiety compared with adults
• Women and young adults aged 20–29 are the most likely to seek help for anxiety from their GP.
Additionally, a YouGov survey of 2,300 adults in Britain carried out for Mental Health Awareness Week 2014
• Almost one in five people feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the time.
• Only one in twenty people never feel anxious.
• Women are more likely to feel anxious than men.
• The likelihood of feeling anxious reduces with age.
• Students and people not in employment are more likely to feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the
• Financial issues are a cause of anxiety for half of people, but this is less likely to be so for older
• Women and older people are more likely to feel anxious about the welfare of loved ones.
• Four in every ten employed people experience anxiety about their work.
• Around a fifth of people who are anxious have a fear of unemployment.
• Younger people are much more likely to feel anxious about personal relationships.
• Older people are more likely to be anxious about growing old, the death of a loved one and their own
• The youngest people surveyed (aged 18 - 24) were twice as likely to be anxious about being alone
than the oldest people (aged over 55 years).
• One-fifth of people who have experienced anxiety do nothing to cope with it.
• The most commonly used coping strategies are talking to a friend, going for a walk, and physical
• Comfort eating is used by a quarter of people to cope with feelings of anxiety, and women and young
people are more likely to use this as a way of coping.
• A third of the students in the survey said they cope by ‘hiding themselves away from the world’.
• People who are unemployed are more likely to use coping strategies that are potentially harmful,
such as alcohol and cigarettes.
• Fewer than one in ten people have sought help from their GP to deal with anxiety, although those
who feel anxious more frequently are much more likely to do this.
• People are believed to be more anxious now than they were five years ago.
• There is a tendency to reject the notion that having anxious feelings is stigmatising.
• People who experience anxiety most frequently tend to agree that it is stigmatising.
• Just under half of people get more anxious these days than they used to and believe that anxiety
has stopped them from doing things in their life.
• Most people want to be less anxious in their day-to-day lives.
• Women and younger people are more likely to say that anxiety has impacted on their lives.
Living with Anxiety is our comprehensive report on the issue commissioned for Mental Health Awareness
Week 2014 and contains more detail about the above data.
UK & WORLDWIDE
• 1 in 4 British adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year, and
1 in 6 experiences this at any given time.
(The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
• Although mental disorders are widespread, serious cases are concentrated among a relatively small
proportion of people who experience more than one mental health problem. (The British Journal of
• It is estimated that approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health
problem. (World Health Organisation, 2001)
COMMON MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
• Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with almost 9% of people
meeting criteria for diagnosis. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
• Between 8-12% of the population experience depression in any year. (The Office for National
Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
• About half of people with common mental health problems are no longer affected after 18 months,
but poorer people, the long-term sick and unemployed people are more likely to be still affected than
the general population. (Better Or Worse: A Longitudinal Study Of The Mental Health Of Adults In
Great Britain, National Statistics, 2003)
MEN AND WOMEN
• Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men (29% compared
to 17%).This could be because, when asked, women are more likely to report symptoms of common
mental health problems. (Better Or Worse: A Longitudinal Study Of The Mental Health Of Adults In
Great Britain, National Statistics, 2003)
• Depression is more common in women than men. 1 in 4 women will require treatment for depression
at some time, compared to 1 in 10 men. The reasons for this are unclear, but are thought to be due
to both social and biological factors. It has also been suggested that depression in men may have
been under diagnosed because they present to their GP with different symptoms. (National Institute
For Clinical Excellence, 2003)
• Women are twice as likely to experience anxiety as men. Of people with phobias or OCD, about 60%
are female. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
• Men are more likely than women to have an alcohol or drug problem. 67% of British people who
consume alcohol at ‘hazardous’ levels, and 80% of those dependent on alcohol are male. Almost
three quarters of people dependent on cannabis and 69% of those dependent on other illegal drugs
are male. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE
• One in ten children between the ages of one and 15 has a mental health disorder. (The Office for
National Statistics Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005)
• Estimates vary, but research suggests that 20% of children have a mental health problem in any
given year, and about 10% at any one time. (Lifetime Impacts: Childhood and Adolescent Mental
Health, Understanding The Lifetime Impacts, Mental Health Foundation, 2005)
• Rates of mental health problems among children increase as they reach adolescence. Disorders
affect 10.4% of boys aged 5-10, rising to 12.8% of boys aged 11-15, and 5.9% of girls aged 5-10,
rising to 9.65% of girls aged 11-15. (Mental Disorder More Common In Boys, National Statistics
• Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 living in care homes.
(Adults In Later Life with Mental Health Problems, Mental Health Foundation quoting Psychiatry in
the Elderly, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2002)
• Dementia affects 5% of people over the age of 65 and 20% of those over 80. (National Institute For
Clinical Excellence, 2004)
• About 700,000 people in the UK have dementia (1.2% of the population) at any one time. (National
Institute For Clinical Excellence, 2004)
It's estimated that around one million people will die by suicide worldwide each year.
• Suicide remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35 (Five Years On,
Department Of Health, 2005).
• More than 5700 people in the UK died by suicide in 2010 (Samaritans Information Resource Pack,
• British men are three times as likely as British women to die by suicide (Samaritans Information
Resource Pack, 2004).
• The suicide rate among people over 65 has fallen by 24% in recent years, but is still high compared
to the population overall. (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2004).
Schizophrenia is a serious disorder of the mind and brain but it is also highly treatable - yet the facts
around it make for alarming reading.
• Schizophrenic disorders affect around 26 million people worldwide and result in moderate or severe
disability in sixty percent of cases (1)
• Schizophrenic disorders also rank fifth among men and sixth among women as a leading cause of
years lived with disability and comprise roughly one percent of the global burden of disease - a
fraction that is considered moderate to high (2)
• More than 50% of persons with schizophrenia are not receiving appropriate care and 90% of people
with untreated schizophrenia are in developing countries (3)
• Approximately 220,000 people in England and Wales have a diagnosis of schizophrenia and in 2007
it accounted for approximately 30% of the total expenditure on adult mental health and social care
• Mortality among people with schizophrenia is approximately fifty percent above that of the general
population, partly as a result of an increased incidence of suicide (about ten percent die by suicide)
and violent death, and partly as a result of an increased risk of a wide range of physical health
(4) http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/NAS National report FINAL.pdf
• The UK has one of the highest rates of self-harm in Europe, at 400 per 100,000 population. (Self-
poisoning and self-injury in adults, Clinical Medicine, 2002)
• People with current mental health problems are 20 times more likely than others to report having
harmed themselves in the past. (National Collaborating Centre For Mental Health)
• More than 70% of the prison population has two or more mental health disorders. (Social Exclusion
Unit, 2004, quoting Psychiatric Morbidity Among Prisoners In England And Wales, 1998)
• Male prisoners are 14 times more likely to have two or more disorders than men in general, and
female prisoners are 35 times more likely than women in general. (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004,
quoting Psychiatric Morbidity Among Prisoners In England And Wales, 1998)
• The suicide rate in prisons is almost 15 times higher than in the general population: in 2002 the rate
was 143 per 100,000 compared to 9 per 100,000 in the general population. (The National Service
Framework For Mental Health: Five Years On, Department of Health, 2004; Samaritans Information
Resource Pack, 2004)
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