Mental health is a key part of our overall well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that there is no health without mental health. It is the source of our collective and individual ability as people to reach our full potential.
Mental health refers to the way in which we are aware of our own abilities and can cope relatively well with the ups and downs of life. Someone with good emotional well-being is capable of working productively and making a contribution to his or her community.
A range of factors can impact our emotional well-being. These include genetics, prolonged stress, physical illness and traumatic events. Environmental issues such as the economic, political and social climate can also have an impact.
Current figures suggest that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. The most common types include depression and anxiety. Both can greatly affect things like work productivity, physical health and the wider economy.
Talking therapies such as psychotherapy and counselling are considered effective forms of mental health support. This page will explore mental health in more detail and will look into key mental health statistics. It will also cover how counselling can help.
Mental health statistics
The mental health statistics listed below offer insight into the nature of the problem worldwide. Please note: this list is not exhaustive. For more information, please see our Facts & Figures page.
- Mental health problems affect 450 million people worldwide.
- 1 in 6 adults in the UK will experience a significant mental health problem each year.
- 1 in 10 children and young people between ages five and 16 have a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder.
- Depression affects 2.6 in 100 people.
- Anxiety affects 4.7 in 100 people.
- Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common disorder in Britain (affecting 9.7 in 100 people).
- More women than men are diagnosed with depression (1 in 4 compared to 1 in 10 men).
- Male mental health is a growing concern in the UK as suicide is currently the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50.
Types of mental health issues
Mental health issues can have a profound impact on how we think, feel and behave. They can range from the daily worries we all have from time to time, to serious long-term problems that require treatment to manage effectively.
According to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), there are two main types of mental health problems. The categories are neurotic or psychotic symptoms. These definitions can help professionals with diagnosis and treatment. However, some people may experience a combination of the neuroses and psychosis. Therefore distinguishing between the two may not always be useful.
Individuals that have 'common mental health issues' are very likely to have neurotic symptoms. These are severe versions of 'normal' emotions, such as stress, sadness and anxiety. We all feel down or worried every now and then, but if those emotions start impacting daily life, it may be a sign of a mental health problem.
If mental health issues are ignored or dismissed as character traits it can lead to further problems. For example, some people may no longer feel able to lead an enjoyable and productive life. This is why it is so important to seek support as soon as your problems overcome your ability to cope.
Mental health issues with neurotic symptoms include:
Mental health issues with psychotic symptoms are less common. Research shows around two in every 100 people in the UK have psychosis. Psychotic symptoms interfere with a person's perception of reality and may include hallucinations. These include seeing, smelling, hearing or feeling things that no one else can. People experiencing psychosis may also form unrealistic views about themselves, other people and the world around them.