Detentions under the Mental Health Act

Published

Last updated 9 November 2020 - see all updates

1. Main facts and figures

  • in the year to March 2019, Black people were more than 4 times as likely as White people to be detained under the Mental Health Act – 306.8 detentions per 100,000 people, compared with 72.9 per 100,000 people

  • out of the 16 specific ethnic groups, Black Caribbean people had the highest rate of detention out of all ethnic groups (excluding groups labelled ‘Other’)

  • the highest rate of detention was for people in the Black Other ethnic group, followed by those in the Mixed Other ethnic group – however, these rates are considered to be overestimates because ‘Other’ categories may have been used for people whose specific ethnicity wasn’t known

  • the actual rates of detention for people in the ethnic groups not labelled as ‘Other’ may be underestimated, particularly those within the Black ethnic groups

  • overall, it is estimated that detentions increased by 2.0% in the year to March 2019 – this is based on figures from service providers who submitted good quality data in each of the last 4 years, rather than all providers

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data measures rates of detention under the Mental Health Act 1983.

The data includes people who were detained (commonly known as ‘sectioned’) in hospital for assessment or treatment under the Act.

Detention rates are rounded to 1 decimal place.

Find out more about the Mental Health Act 1983.

Not included in the data

The data does not include detentions under Section 136 that take place in non-healthcare settings, for example police cells.

How detention rates are calculated

For each ethnic group, the detention rate is the number of detentions under the Act in healthcare services per 100,000 people in the general population.

The ethnic groups used in the data

The 16 ethnic groups shown in this data are those listed in the 2001 Census.

Methodology

Read the detailed methodology document (PDF opens in a new window or tab) for the data on this page.

Detention rates for the 5 ‘Other’ ethnic groups (for example, Black Other and Any Other) may be overestimated. This is because ‘Other’ categories may have been used for people whose specific ethnicity was not known.

Similarly, rates for groups that are not ‘Other’ categories may be underestimated.

Detention rates for all ethnic groups are likely to be underestimated because not all NHS providers submitted complete data during the period covered.

Improved data quality in the year to March 2019 means that the actual increase in detentions is likely to be less than shown. Based on the NHS providers who submitted good quality data in each of the last 3 years, there was an increase in detentions of 2% in the 2 years to March 2019.

Detention rates have been adjusted to allow different ethnic groups to be compared as if they had the same age profile (the number of people of different ages within an ethnic group). As a result, the estimates do not show the actual detention rates for each ethnic group.

Detention rates are worked out using population data from the 2011 Census. Read more about problems using Census data.

In the data file

See Download the data for confidence intervals. Find out more about how we use confidence intervals to judge the reliability of estimates.

3. By ethnicity (5 ethnic groups)

Number of detentions under the Mental Health Act per 100,000 people, by aggregated ethnic group (standardised rates)
Ethnicity 2017/18 2018/19
Number per 100,000 Number per 100,000
Asian 91.9 103.4
Black 288.7 306.8
Mixed 158.4 232.8
White 71.8 72.9
Other 180.3 173.4

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity (5 ethnic groups)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity (5 ethnic groups)’ (CSV)

Summary of Detentions under the Mental Health Act By ethnicity (5 ethnic groups) Summary

The data shows that:

  • Black people were most likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act in the year to March 2019, with 306.8 detentions per 100,000 people

  • the next highest rate of detention was for people in the Mixed ethnic group – 232.8 detentions per 100,000 people

  • White people had the lowest rate of detention – 72.9 detentions per 100,000 people

  • overall, it’s estimated that detentions increased by 2.0% in the year to March 2019 – this is based on figures from service providers who submitted good quality data in each of the last 4 years, rather than all providers

4. By ethnicity (16 ethnic groups)

Number of detentions under the Mental Health Act per 100,000 people, by specific ethnic group (standardised rates)
Ethnicity 2017/18 2018/19
Number per 100,000 Number per 100,000
Asian
Bangladeshi 129.7 141.7
Indian 55.7 70.9
Pakistani 112.6 117.6
Asian other 124.5 134.0
Black
Black African 205.6 221.6
Black Caribbean 254.3 276.5
Black other 745.9 728.1
Mixed
Mixed White/Asian 77.6 82.3
Mixed White/Black African 193.5 188.2
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 149.3 177.6
Mixed other 236.4 474.2
White
White British 69.0 70.1
White Irish 74.7 74.8
White other 138.9 141.2
Other including Chinese
Chinese 46.3 52.2
Any other 432.9 410.8

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity (16 ethnic groups)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity (16 ethnic groups)’ (CSV)

Summary of Detentions under the Mental Health Act By ethnicity (16 ethnic groups) Summary

The data shows that:

  • Black Caribbean people had the highest rate of detention out of all ethnic groups (excluding groups labelled ‘Other’), with 276.5 detentions per 100,000 people in the year ending March 2019

  • the highest rates of detention were for the Other Black, Other Mixed and Any Other ethnic groups – however, these are considered to be overestimates because ‘Other’ categories may have been used for people whose specific ethnicity wasn’t known

  • the actual rates of detention for people in the ethnic groups not labelled as ‘other’ may be underestimated, particularly those within the Black ethnic groups

  • the ethnic groups with the lowest detention rates (not counting the ‘other’ categories) were Chinese (52.2 detentions per 100,000 people), White British (70.1 per 100,000), Indian (70.9 per 100,000) and White Irish (74.8 per 100,000)

5. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

NHS Digital

Publication frequency

Monthly

Purpose of data source

The Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) has information about people who are in contact with mental health, learning disabilities and autism services. It uses clinical and operational data for purposes other than direct patient care.

6. Download the data

Detentions under the Mental Health Act - Spreadsheet (csv) 4 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, crude rate, standardised rate, denominator, numerator, confidence interval