Since 1993, the Psychiatric Morbidity Survey series has been carried out by the University of Leicester, NatCen Social Research, and/or the Office for National Statistics. The current surveys are commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre with funding from the Department of Health. A range of different groups have been covered:
- Adults living in private households: 1993 and 2000 (with a sample followed up in 2001), 2007 (including a sample of adults with learning disabilities) and 2014
- People with a psychotic disorder living in the community: 1993 and 2000
- Residents of institutions for people with mental disorders: 1994
- Homeless people: 1994
- Prisoners: 1997 (with a follow-up in 1998)
- Children living in private households: 1999 (with a follow-up in 2002), 2004 (all followed up in 2007) and upcoming in 2016/7
- Children looked after by Local Authorities: 2001/2
- People providing informal care: 2001
This website mainly provides information about the adult mental health surveys.
The survey series has had a huge impact on our understanding of mental illness, substance dependence and suicidal behaviour, and their causes and consequences.
Data from the adult surveys have shown that poor mental health is linked with:
- Being female, aged 35 to 54, separated or divorced,
- Living as a one-person family unit or as a lone parent,
- Being in debt, living in fuel poverty, or poor quality housing,
- Unemployment or working in a low quality job, and
- Having a low IQ, impaired functioning, or poor physical health.
People with common mental disorders (CMD) such as anxiety and depression are more likely to have experienced stressful events in their lives, and to have smaller social networks, than those with no disorder. The key lifetime stressors that are damaging to mental health include sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying, and running away from home or institutional care in childhood.
APMS datasets are the only national source of information on rates of untreated mental illness. The data has revealed, for example, significant ethnic inequalities in NHS healthcare. Black people with poor mental health are less likely than white people with poor mental health to be prescribed antidepressants or to have discussed their mental health with a GP.
University of Leicester and NatCen are currently reporting on APMS 2014. The 2007 study found little change in rates of mental illness since 2000. With recession already implicated in recent increases in England’s suicide rate, the stable trend in mental health may be changing.
While the survey methods have evolved, consistent instruments have been used across the series to allow for comparison over time. The initial, detailed interview is followed up, for a subsample of adults, with a second phase clinical assessment of rare conditions such as psychosis and autism.
The adult psychiatric morbidity survey series is currently led by teams based at NatCen Social Research and the University of Leicester. Members of the core research team include: Terry Brugha, Zoe Morgan, Sally McManus, Paul Bebbington, and Rachel Jenkins. The study is advised by a number of other academic experts, including Philip Asherson, Charlotte Clark, Jeremy Coid, Colin Drummond, Nicola Fear, Angela Hassiotis, Michael King, Steven Marwaha, Orla McBride, Paul Moran, Bob Palmer, Dheeraj Rai, Stephen Stansfeld, Robert Stewart, John Strang, Andre Styrom, Peter Tyrer, Scott Weich, and Simon Wessely.