One in four? How many people suffer from a mental health problem?

Topic Selected: Depression

General Article icon Type: General Article
  • A widely-cited 2007 survey found one in four people in England experienced mental illness at various points in that year. This wasn’t the original source of the one in four figure, which goes back to the 1980s.
  • The finding is regularly misinterpreted as meaning that one in four of us will suffer from a mental illness in our lifetimes.
  • The 2007 study measured different conditions in different time frames so the findings can’t tell us how many have suffered from mental illness in any one of these periods.
  • A more recent version of the survey found that one in six people suffered from a common mental disorder at various points in 2014.
  • Separately, the Health Survey for England found in 2014 that one in four people reported having been diagnosed with at least one mental illness at some point in their lives. A further 18% said they’d experienced an illness but hadn’t been diagnosed.

 

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