mental illness - kidsOne in four adults (26%) surveyed as part of the Health Survey for England (HSE) said they had been diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lifetime according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Over 5,000 adults were asked about their mental health experiences as part of the nurse visit in the annual HSE, which has been running for two decades.

The survey also found:

  • Depression (including post-natal depression) was the most frequently reported diagnosed mental illness, with nearly one in five participants (19%) saying they had received this diagnosis at some time.
  • More women than men reported that they had ever been diagnosed with depression (including post-natal depression); 24% of women compared to 13% of men.
  • Half of the men and women who reported ever being diagnosed with a common mental disorder said that they had experienced the condition in the last 12 months, while a further 6% of men and 7% of women reported having taken medication or having had therapy for a common mental disorder but not having experienced it in the last 12 months.
  • Two fifths of respondents (40% of men and 39% of women) who had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness also said that they had a limiting long standing physical or mental illness. Among respondents who had never been diagnosed with a mental illness 16% of men and 20% of women reported having a limiting long standing illness.
Adults were also asked if they had ever self-harmed or attempted suicide, overall:
3% of men and 5% of women reported they had self-harmed.
4% of men and 7%t of women reported suicide attempts.

The HSE also estimates that among the adult population in England in 2014 that the rates of ever being diagnosed with a common mental disorder were higher among women at 31%  than men at 17%. Also, men and women (27 and 42% respectively) living in lower income households were more likely to have ever been diagnosed with a mental illness, compared with men and women in the highest income bracket (15 and 25% respectively).

Responsible statistician Alison Neave said: "The survey shows that one in four adults have experienced some form of diagnosed mental illness in their lifetime. We hope that these new data will be useful to commissioners of mental health services."