Treatment for mental or emotional problems
Last updated 10 October 2019 - see all updates
1. Main facts and figures
- in 2014, 14.5% of White British people were being treated for mental or emotional problems at the time they were surveyed, the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
- Black people were least likely to be having treatment, with 6.5% doing so
- no other meaningful differences between ethnic groups were observed for the proportion of respondents receiving treatment
The ethnic categories used in this data
For this data, the number of people surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following broad groups, based on the ONS harmonised ethnic group questions for use on national surveys.
- Asian/Asian British
- Black/Black British
- Mixed/Multiple and Other
- White British
- White Other
2. By ethnicity
|[None]||No treatment||Medication only||Counselling or therapy only||Both medication and counselling||Any treatment|
|White - British||85.5||11.4||1.4||1.7||14.5|
|White - Other||92.4||6.2||0.9||0.4||7.6|
Summary of Treatment for mental or emotional problems By ethnicity Summary
Each survey involved interviewing a large stratified probability sample of the general population, covering people living in private households. The full adult age range was covered, with the youngest participants aged 16 and the oldest over 100.
The two-phase survey design involved an initial interview with the whole sample, followed up with a structured assessment carried out by clinically trained interviewers with a subset of participants. People were assessed or screened for a range of different types of mental disorder, from common conditions like depression and anxiety disorder through to less common neurological and mental conditions such as psychotic disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The resulting statistics for treatment for a mental or emotional problem have been age-standardised. This is because the prevalence of mental or emotional problems is related to age and the age profile (the number of people of different ages within an ethnic group) can differ considerably between ethnic groups. This adjustment allows comparisons to be made between ethnic groups as if they had the same age profile.
Rates presented are based on participant self-reports, not health records. Misclassifications of type of treatment or service are possible.
The survey covers people who live in private households. It doesn’t include those who live in institutional settings or in temporary housing (such as hostels or bed and breakfasts) or those who sleep rough. People living in such settings are likely to have worse mental health than those living in private households (Gill et al. 1996; cited in APMS 2014).
Where a selected participant could not take part in a long interview due to a physical or mental health condition, some information about this was recorded by the interviewer on the doorstep. This information may be biased due to it having been collected often from another household member.
Socially undesirable or stigmatised feelings and behaviours may be underreported. While this is a risk for any study based on self-report data, the study goes some way to minimising this by collecting particularly sensitive information in a self-completion format.
Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy. For example, a survey which contains 25% females and 75% males will not accurately reflect the views of the general population which we know is around 50% male and 50% female.
More detailed information on the weighting used here can be found on page 24 of the Methods chapter of the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014.
Confidence intervals for each ethnic group are available in the ‘download the data’ section.
14.5% of White British adults surveyed reported receiving treatment for a mental or emotional problem. This is a reliable estimate of the White British adults in England receiving treatment for a mental or emotional problem. Because the APMS results are based on a random sample of people aged 16 or older, however, it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.
It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 13.5% and 15.4% of all White British adults were receiving treatment for a mental or emotional problem in 2014. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall between the lower and upper bounds of the confidence interval. But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.
The smaller the survey sample, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval. For example, far fewer adults from the Black/Black British ethnic group were sampled for this survey (197 Black/Black British respondents) than British White adults, so we can be less certain about the estimate for the smaller group. This greater uncertainty is expressed by the wider confidence interval of between 4.0% and 10.4%.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
Risk to disclosure has been accounted for with limitations of the level of disaggregation, size of category groupings, and the maintaining of large underlying populations for analysis. No further suppression or other disclosure control has been applied.
Percentages have been rounded to one decimal point.
Further technical information
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Every 7 years (further publications dependent on further surveys being commissioned)
Purpose of data source
The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey provides data on the prevalence of treated and untreated psychiatric disorders in English adults aged 16 and over.
5. Download the data
Percentage of individuals estimated to be receiving treatment for mental or emotional problems by broad ethnic group, sex and treatment with 95% confidence intervals.