Mental illness impacts on people’s lives and mental ill health presents a complex public health problem. Mental health has been a priority area for policymakers to tackle for many years. In 2013, the Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report focused on mental health, summarising the public health evidence and making recommendations to improve the mental health of the nation. 

  • 26% of adults reported having ever been diagnosed with at least one mental illness.
  • Women were more likely than men to report ever having been diagnosed with a mental illness (33% compared with 19%).
  • 19% of adults reported that they had ever been diagnosed with depression, including post-natal depression. This was the most frequently reported diagnosis.
  • 8% of adults reported ever being diagnosed with panic attacks.
  • 6% of adults reported ever being diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder.
  • Lifetime prevalence of other conditions was very low, at 3% or less. 
  • Men and women living in lower income households were more likely to have ever been diagnosed with a mental illness than those living in higher income households: 27% of men and 42% of women in the lowest income quintile compared with 15% of men and 25% of women in the highest.
  • 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, and 4% of men and 7% of women reported suicide attempts.
  • People who had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness were much more likely to have self-harmed, or to have made a suicide attempt, than those who had never been diagnosed.

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