Mental Health Statistics in England

Attitudes towards mental health have changed in recent years. Mental health, which was often stigmatised and not discussed openly, is receiving increasing public, media and government attention as an important public health issue. There is a greater awareness that mental health is something we all have and, just like physical health, it can sometimes be good and sometimes be poor.

Our review of mental health statistics in England, carried out before the Covid-19 pandemic, explores why good statistics in this area are important, but is not intended to provide specific guidance on statistics directly related to the effects of the pandemic. We hope however, that sharing our findings on the strengths and weaknesses of mental health statistics, along with highlighting specific recommendations for improvements, will help inform decisions in the statistical sector both in the immediate term and going forward.

Our research for this review focused on answering the following two questions:

  • is the mental health statistical system publishing the information required to provide individuals, service providers and policy makers with a comprehensive picture on mental health?
  • do the existing statistics help answer the key questions about mental health in society today?

We spoke to a wide range of statistics users across different areas of society. They told us of their need for high quality statistics which are able to answer a broad range of questions. Users told us that the existing statistics did not paint a full enough picture of individuals and their conditions, and that producers should be taking greater steps to maximise the insight from existing statistics. In some areas they wanted to know more than the current statistics were able to tell them.

We heard that there is a need for improved quality across the datasets underlying many mental health statistics. Users told us that mental health statistics should be more accessible, both in terms of finding relevant publications and in relation to producers making publications easy to read and explaining clearly the limitations of the statistics. In addition to this, they spoke of their frustrations that some surveys were not carried out as often as they would like, as well as challenges around obtaining data for secondary analysis purposes.

Our research identified that, although the existing mental health statistics go some way to meeting user’s needs, there is much more that can be done.

Our recommendations:

  1. Statistics producers and organisations should exploit the value of the statistics through better data, greater analysis and linking data.
  2. We want to see continued activity to improve the quality of underlying statistics datasets, as well as clear communication with users about quality issues.
  3. We want to see clearer leadership and greater collaboration across producers of mental health statistics.
  4. Access to NHS Digital data needs to improve.

We understand that addressing these issues may not currently be a priority for statistics producers due to the COVID-19 situation, however we expect statistics producers to work collaboratively towards delivering these recommendations when they are able to do so.

Report on Adult Social Care statistics in England

Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its findings from an in-depth review of Adult Social Care statistics in England.

The need for good data to support delivery of adult social care should not be underestimated. While there is rightly a focus on delivery, a scarcity of funding has led to under investment in data and analysis, making it harder for individuals and organisations to make informed decisions.

This needs to be addressed. The need for information is increasing as society evolves and the demands on social care services over coming years look set to increase. Improved data matters in solving problems, supporting efficiency and maximising outcomes. It is also important to inform decisions made by individuals about the care they receive or provide for themselves and their families.

Our review highlighted three main areas for attention:

  • Better leadership and collaboration across the many different organisations involved in the process of publishing official statistics on social care, that enables working across boundaries to join-up government departments, local authorities and between public and private sector providers;
  • Gaps in available data as most information available comes from local authorities with responsibilities for adult social services and does not cover private household expenditure, privately funded care or the value of unpaid care causing limited knowledge of individuals care journeys and outcomes; and
  • Improving existing official statistics through accessibility, coherence, quality, timeliness and granularity of the data to provide insight and allow existing data to better meet user needs.


Related Links

Mary to Sandra Tudor, MHCLG (January 2020)

Mary Gregory to Chris Roebuck, NHS Digital (January 2020)

Mary Gregory to Mark Svenson, NHS England (January 2020)

Mary Gregory to Iain Bell, ONS (January 2020)

Systemic Review Outline: Adult Social Care

Response from NHS Digital on Adult Social Care in England (February 2020)


NHS Digital data access review update – May 2019

Executive Summary

This report sets out the initial conclusions from the Office for Statistics Regulation’s (OSR) Review of NHS Digital’s data sharing and access processes, and the areas that will now be subject to further review.

Enabling users to access data is one of the key ways that statistics producers can meet the Code of Practice for Statistics’ expectations to fulfil the potential of the data they hold.

The areas we will be focusing on have been identified following conversations with users of English health data about their experiences of accessing data from NHS Digital.

We have identified some actions that OSR and NHS Digital can take now to address user concerns without needing further exploration.

The main objective of the next stage of the Review is to identify ways to ensure that the full potential of NHS Digital’s data can be realised. It will address two areas:

  • How can users with innovative or complicated proposals be supported to access health data in England?
  • How can data users and NHS Digital work together to improve data quality and documentation?


Related Links:

Ed Humpherson to Sarah Wilkinson (NHS Digital), May 2019

Joining Up Data for Better Statistics, September 2018

Exploring the public value of statistics about post-16 education and skills in England

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is exploring the value of data and statistics in relation to post-16 education and skills in England.

Good quality and accessible information in this area is important to support the most fair, efficient and effective provision of education and training to meet the needs of both individuals and employers. This report explores the extent to which data and statistics in England meet this need and focusses on three main areas: further education and apprenticeships, higher education, and skills and lifelong learning. It does not aim to present a definitive picture but aims to start a conversation about priority areas for improvements.

We have now completed the next phase of our review where we have engaged with users and producers with a specific interest in statistics on post-16 education and skills in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and we have produced a UK report. 

NHS Performance Measures

Over the last two years the Office of Statistics Regulation has investigated different concerns over accident and emergency (A&E) statistics in England, Scotland and Wales.

We have worked closely with statisticians producing these statistics on A&E attendance and waiting times to make timely and informed interventions.

This report summarises our interventions and serves as a vehicle to develop and innovate the presentation of performance measures more widely.

Related links:

Ed Humpherson to Mark Svenson

Ed Humpherson to Glyn Jones

Ed Humpherson to Roger Halliday


Insolvency Service Enforcement Outcomes 2016/17

This document reports a breach of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, or the relevant Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Orders, to which the Code applies as if it included these orders.