Has the number of people using mental health services increased?

Published: 11 Jan 2017

In brief

Claim

1,400 more people are accessing mental health services every day, compared to 2010/11.

Conclusion

NHS figures suggest that the number is increasing, but we can’t say for sure or put an exact figure on it. Changes to the way these figures are gathered means it's not possible to calculate exactly how the number of people accessing mental health services has changed since 2010.

“If we look at what is happening in relation to mental health treatment in the National Health Service, we see 1,400 more people every day accessing mental health services.”

Theresa May, 11 January 2017

The Department of Health told us that the Prime Minister was referring to the difference between the number of patients using NHS mental health services in 2010/11 and 2014/15 in England.

However, changes to the way information about mental health service users are collected means that the figures for these two years aren’t directly comparable.

NHS Digital, which publishes the data, told us that they can’t be used to find an exact trend for those years either. That means we can’t say for sure how the numbers of people being treated has changed.

The figures from before 2010/11 do show us that the number of people accessing mental health services was increasing up until that point.

NHS Digital told us that this, combined with the fact that uses of the Mental Health Act increased between 2011 and 2015, probably means that the number of people accessing mental health services has increased in the last few years. We just can’t say by exactly how much.

More recent figures have been published since the government made its calculations. These estimate that the number of patients using NHS mental health services was just under 1.8 million in 2015/16. In total the number of people using NHS services and independent mental health services funded by the NHS was just over this.

NHS Digital also told us that these figures don’t include people who just go to their GP about mental health issues or the Adult Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme which provides therapies for people with anxiety and depression.

Update 3 April 2017

We updated this piece with more information from NHS Digital.

Update 4 April 2017

We updated this piece to clarify that the figures relate to England.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of Prime Minister's Questions. Read the roundup.


£22,691
RAISED
£100,000
TARGET
40
DAYS LEFT
740
SUPPORTERS
We aim for our factchecks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please email team@fullfact.org.