26% of adults diagnosed with mental illness


More than a quarter of adults have been diagnosed with a mental illness at some point during their lifetime, with a fifth reporting depression, figures show.

New data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) found 26% of more than 5,000 adults surveyed said they had been diagnosed with a mental problem at some point.

The data, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), found that depression (including postnatal depression) was the most common diagnosed mental illness, with 19% saying they had received this diagnosis at some time.

More women than men have suffered depression - 24% compared to 13% of men.

Half of those surveyed said they had experienced their mental problem in the last 12 months.

The data showed that mental illness appears to be more common in those who have suffered from it for a long time or who have a limiting physical illness that has been going on a while.

Some 40% of men and 39% of women who have ever been diagnosed with a mental illness say they have a long-standing mental or physical illness.

Among respondents who have never been diagnosed with a mental illness, 16% of men and 20% of women report a long-standing illness.

Some 3% of men and 5% of women have self-harmed, while 4% of men and 7% of women have reported suicide attempts, the data showed.

When estimates are made for the adult population in England in 2014, some 31% of women and 17% of men have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder in their lifetime.

The figure is higher for men and women with the lowest incomes.

Rachel Craig, head of health surveys at NatCen Social Research, which collected the data, said: "This survey leaves us in no doubt as to the prevalence of mental ill health in England. As many as one in four people suffer from a mental illness at some time in their lives and one in five with depression.

"Despite it affecting so many of us, prejudice against people with a mental illness still exists and there is some resistance to the provision of community care for people suffering with mental ill health.

"Men are more likely to hold prejudiced and less tolerant views than women. But there is evidence that if you know someone with a mental illness you are less likely to hold negative views."