Mental health facts

You may have heard the headline 'one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem', and while this statistic is vitally important to show the scale and proportion of mental illness, it really is the tip of the iceburg when it comes to actually understanding mental health issues.

In a way blanket covering the area of 'mental health' is like saying 'four in four of us will suffer from a physical illness during the course of our life' - yep! Well that's obviuos, but which one? A cold? Flu? Or cancer? In reality mental health problems are just as varied, dissociative disorders are nothing like depression, panic attacks are nothing like schizophrenia, and eating disorders are nothing like bipolar.

We are at present compiling a comprehensive and up-to-the-minute factsheet on mental health statistics to be published alongside this artile, but we at Mental Healthy find it incredibly important to point out the 'facts' and the people they represent, behind the statistics.

An overview

  • Over the course of a year, one in four people will suffer a mental health problem
  • One in six people will experience a mental health problem at any one time. 
  • As of 2001, it was estimated that around 450 million people in the world have a diagnosable mental health condition.  (WHO 2001)
  • Women are more likely to seek help for a mental health problem, but this may have more to do with seeking treatment rather than prevelence among the sexes, as men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women in the UK
  • Anxiety and depression (mixed) is the most prevalent mental health disorder in the UK
  • When we carried out our own survey in 2010 we found that of the UK population, only 46% would say they are very mentally healthy.

The statistics are stark, they represent huge swathes of people across the land, but does that really help us understand mental illness?

Influencing policy

Mental Healthy believe that there is indeed a place for statistics, that is in policy making. Policies and laws can be made and shaped by surveying the country as a whole and using these findings to make a change. take for example this fact:

  • Long-term and severe mental illness sufferers who are given intensive support to return to work, experience far fewer and notibly shorter hospital stays thereafter, compared to people receiving usual mental health services.

This statistic is of benefit to those looking to impliment services to enable those with mental illness to lead healthy lives on discharge from hospital.

It does also of course help us know we are not alone, however, what the numbers fail to do is show the human side. Mental illness may cost the English government, health service and economy £77billion a year, but to a sufferer, it costing them their job, their home, their benefits, THAT to them is the real cost.

As a nation we need to start looking at this; the lost lives, the ruined years, the lost childhoods, the relationship breakdowns. Because unless we start looking at building up these things as a community, the facts, finances and figures will continue to be distressing. Care is not care any more, it is a numbers game of beds and targets, this is the real FACT of mental illness.

If you haven't got what you came to this page for, then I am sure you will find it on our comprehensive 'mental health statistics' page, but I urge you as you read them to think, not only of the numbers, but of the people those figures represent.

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