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Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing

Art therapy

Aim

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity survey series, also known as the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing has had a huge impact on our understanding of mental illness, substance dependence and suicidal behaviour, and their causes and consequences.

APMS datasets are the only national source of information on rates of treated and untreated mental illness.

New report out now 

The 2014 report can be downloaded from NHS Digital's website. 

Key findings

Trends in drug use & dependence 

  • Cannabis was the most commonly used drug in the past year (9.4% of men and 5.1% of women).
  • Overall, 3.1% of adults showed signs of dependence on drugs, including 2.3% who showed signs of dependence on cannabis only and 0.8% with signs of dependence on other drugs (with or without cannabis dependence as well). After increases in the 1990s, the overall rate has remained stable since 2000.

Trends in mental illness

  • One adult in six had a common mental disorder (CMD): about one woman in five and one man in eight. Since 2000, overall rates of CMD in England steadily increased in women and remained largely stable in men.
  • Reported rates of self-harming increased in men and women and across age groups since 2007. However, much of this increase in reporting may have been due to greater awareness about the behaviour.
  • Young women have emerged as a high-risk group, with high rates of CMD, selfharm, and positive screens for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. The gap between young women and young men increased.
  • Most mental disorders were more common in people living alone, in poor physical health, and not employed. Claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a benefit aimed at those unable to work due to poor health or disability, experienced particularly high rates of all the disorders assessed.

Trends in treatment and service use

  • One person in three with CMD reported current use of mental health treatment in 2014, an increase from the one in four who reported this in 2000 and 2007. This was driven by steep increases in reported use of psychotropic medication. Increased use of psychological therapies was also evident among people with more severe CMD symptoms.
  • There were demographic inequalities in who received treatment. After controlling for level of need, people who were White British, female, or in mid-life (especially aged 35 to 54) were more likely to receive treatment. People in the Black ethnic group had particularly low treatment rates.
  • Socioeconomic inequalities in treatment use were less evident, although people living in lower income households were more likely to have requested but not received a particular mental health treatment.
  • Since 2007, people with CMD had become more likely to use community services and more likely to discuss their mental health with a GP.

Methodology

While the survey methods have evolved, consistent instruments have been used across the series to allow for comparison over time. The initial, detailed interview is followed up, for a subsample of people, with a second phase clinical assessment of rare disorders such as psychosis, autism, and personality disorder.

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Read Main survey report 2007

Read Technical report 2007

Read Autism report 2007