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SECTOR NEWS: Mental health issues rise among adults with young women most affected

Young woman outside in autumn or fall looking sad depressed or thoughtful drinking coffee

Publication date: December 14, 2017

Rates of mental health issues have increased among adults, with over a quarter of young women now more likely to have a problem, a new wellbeing and mental health survey has revealed.

The Health Survey for England 2016 found rising levels of mental health issues in both men and women across the country, with those surveyed indicating a 4 per cent rise from 15 per cent in 2012 to 19 per cent in 2016.

Data from the survey also shows that women are more likely to report a problem, with 21 per cent of women surveyed indicating a probable issue compared with 16 per cent of men. Of those women, 28 per cent of young women aged 16-24 recorded responses that indicated a probable issue.

Among men, young men also indicated high levels of probable issues with 16 per cent and 18 per cent for those aged 16-24 and 25-34 respectively.

The survey carried out by the NatCen Social Research and the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London looked at well-being and mental health measuring characteristics such as general levels of happiness, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance and self-confidence, collecting data from participants aged 16 and over using the General Health Questionnaire.

Prof Sarah Niblock, Chief Executive said: ‘It’s incredibly worrying that adults are reporting rising levels of mental health issues. The government’s own data shows that the demand for mental health services is growing on an unprecedented level. Therapy services must be expanded to match this need.

‘Unfortunately, the government’s plan simply doesn’t scratch the surface of the crisis. The target for talking therapies will still mean 75 per cent of people won’t be able to access support by 2020.  We can’t continue to wait until people are at crisis point before acting. We urge the government to think again and increase investment NHS therapy services.‘

This comes as Health Education England (HEE) published a draft workforce strategy on Wednesday outlining plans to support mental health trusts to improve retention of staff. The report highlights that both mental health nursing and clinical psychology have some of the highest vacancy rates within the NHS, at 14.3 per cent and 12.2 per cent respectively.

‘One in four of us will at some point in our lives experience a mental health problem and it is the single biggest cause of disability. Yet, mental health services remain the poor relation to physical health services. Parity of esteem is law and we must recognise it is time to change,’ HEE said.

“NHS Improvement plans to improve retention by 6,000 members of staff. HEE will create a dedicated mental health workforce development budget and lead a Return to Practice campaign for the 34,000 qualified mental health clinicians not currently in NHS employment,” HEE added.