Adults experiencing common mental disorders

The main facts and figures show that:

  • the percentage of people who experienced a common mental disorder (CMD) in the past week didn’t vary significantly by ethnic group for men - but it did for women

  • 29% of Black/Black British women experienced a CMD in the past week, a higher rate than for White British women or Other White women

  • CMDs were more prevalent in White British women than in Other White women, at 21% and 16% respectively

Things you need to know

The survey covers people aged 16 or over 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. There were 7,546 respondents to the survey.

Sample sizes were too small to draw reliable conclusions about differences in rates of individual common mental disorders between ethnic groups, however the data is presented in the download file.

Keep in mind when making comparisons between ethnic groups that all survey estimates are subject to a degree of uncertainty as they are based on a sample of the population. The degree of uncertainty is greater when the number of respondents is small, so it will be highest for minority ethnic groups.

These statistics have been age-standardised so comparisons can be made between ethnic groups as if they had the same age profile (an age profile shows the number of people of different ages within an ethnic group). The statistics do not tell you the actual percentage of people in each ethnic group who who experienced one or more common mental disorders (CMD) in the week before the survey.

The ethnic groupings used here are broad; there is no breakdown of data for the more specific ethnic groups each contains. Some of the specific ethnic groups have very different experiences to one another. For example, the Black/Black British group could include both recent migrants from Somalia and Black people born in Britain to British parents.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of people aged 16 or older in different broad ethnic groups who experienced one or more common mental disorders (CMD) in the week prior to being surveyed.

CMDs, also known as neurotic disorders, can cause people emotional distress and have an effect on their day-to-day functioning. They include 6 common disorders:

  • generalised anxiety disorder
  • mild, moderate and severe depression
  • phobias
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • panic disorder
  • unspecified CMD
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.

  • White British
  • Other White
  • Black/Black British
  • Asian/Asian British
  • Mixed/Multiple

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Percentage of people with a common mental disorder by sex and ethnicity

Percentage of adults who experienced a common mental disorder in the past week by sex and ethnicity

Ethnicity All Male Female
% % %
Asian/Asian British 17.9 12.9 23.6
Black/Black British 22.5 13.5 29.3
Mixed/ multiple/ other 19.5 10.5 28.7
White British 17.3 13.5 20.9
White other 14.4 13.1 15.6

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • the percentage of people who experienced a common mental disorder (CMD) in the past week didn’t vary by ethnic group for men - but it did for women

  • 29% of Black/Black British women experienced a CMD in the past week, a higher rate than for White British women or Other White women

  • CMDs were more prevalent in White British women than in Other White women, at 21% and 16% respectively

  • no other meaningful differences between ethnic groups or sexes were observed in terms of CMDs

Methodology

Methodology

Interviewers for the APMS asked questions using the Clinical Interview Schedule - Revised (CIS-R). A assessment of common mental disorder (CMD) was made based on the responses.

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).

Specific CMDs and symptoms of CMD were assessed in the first phase interview using the CIS-R. The CIS-R is an interviewer administered structured interview schedule covering the presence of non-psychotic symptoms in the week prior to interview. It can be used to provide prevalence estimates for 14 types of CMD symptoms and 6 types of CMD, which are: generalised anxiety disorder, depression, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and CMD not otherwise specified.

The resulting statistics for CMD have been age-standardised. This is because the prevalence of common mental disorders 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.

The use of a survey to assess mental health conditions is not as reliable as a diagnosis made using a clinical interview. The assessments used have been validated, however, and are among the best available.

The survey covers people who live in private households. It doesn’t include those who live in institutional settings (such as hospitals or prisons) 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 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.

Some people selected for the survey could not be contacted or refused to take part. The achieved response rate (57%) is in line with that of similar surveys (Barnes et al. 2010; cited in APMS 2014). Weighting helps take account of those who were selected for the survey but didn’t take part.

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

The confidence intervals for each ethnic group are available in the ‘download the data’ section.

21% of White British women surveyed experienced a common mental disorder (CMD) in the past week. This is a reliable estimate of the percentage of White British women in England who experienced a CMD in that week. Because the APMS results are based on a random sample of adults aged 16 or older, however, it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.

It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 19.4% and 22.5% of all White British women in England experienced a CMD during the week prior to the survey. 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, fewer women from the Black/Black British ethnic group were sampled for this survey than British White women, 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 19.2% and 42.0%.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

There is no risk to disclosure as the analysis is based on broad ethnic groups, without further disaggregation. Therefore no data has been suppressed. 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.

Rounding

Percentages have been rounded to one decimal point.

Related publications

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, England, 2014 contains full references for other sources cited in this commentary.

Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007

Publications using APMS data

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

APMS 2014 Background Data Quality Statement (PDF)

Data sources

Source

Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, England, 2014

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

NHS Digital

Publication frequency

Purpose of data source

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) series shows the proportion of adults in England who have or exhibit symptoms of mental illness and/or are receiving treatment for mental illness. It doesn’t include the homeless or people in hostels, hospitals, prisons or other institutional settings.

Download the data

APMS_common_mental_disorders - Spreadsheet (csv) 14 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, gender, disorder type, value, denominator, numerator, confidence intervals