• Kasia Szczęsna

Digital Portfolio - Mental health project #2 - statistics

Deciding on the final topic already, I started with secondary research by reading books and online articles. What I’ve quickly noticed is the fact that statistics vary from country to country. For example, Canada, Sweden and Denmark are the top countries in ‘Quality of Life Rankings’ which means mental health problems are not as common there as everywhere else. 

Of course, better environment and less stress affects people in a positive way, causing less mental health problems. In the fast world we live in now, especially in developing countries mental health struggles are a very serious problem. Below, I attached two maps comparing data from 1990 and 2017. 

Even though the difference might not seem drastic, in today’s society it definitely is more visible. People started being more open about their problems and they share their stories more willingly. NHS and other equivalents became more accessible in the past decade which reflected on the number of people suffering.

As a person who have been surrounded by people with mental illnesses both at university and work, I can say that their struggles definitely influence people around them in a negative way. Of course, it is no ones' fault as mental health should be treated as every other illness but our world is still trying to reach this point.

While doing research, I decided to focus only on UK as this is the place where I spend most of my time currently. I believe it is a good idea to narrow my research field a little bit as creating a project about global mental health would be much more difficult.

After reading a lot of reports I found online, I was really surprised to find out how many young people suffer from mental health illnesses. For example, when it comes to anxiety:

  • 13.3% of 16 – 19 year olds and 15.8% of 20 – 24 year olds have suffered from anxiety (neurotic episode)

  • 1.7% of 16 – 19 year olds and 2.2% of 20 -24 year olds have suffered from a depressive episode

  • 0.9% of 16 – 19 year olds and 1.9% of 20 – 24 year olds have suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder.

In relation to UK and specifically London, I found out that:

  • Hospital attendances for self-harm average 15-200 per 100,000 population. In central London 11% of acute adult medical admissions follow deliberate self-harm.

  • Around 150,000 cases of self-harm present to accident and emergency departments annually in UK.About 20% of patients attend hospital again within a year of harming themselves and 0.5-1% commit suicide.

  • In England and Wales, about 1000 people a year commit suicide within 12 months of a general hospital attendance for non-fatal self-harm.

And that:

  • Over half of all mental ill health starts by age 14 and 75% develops by age 18 (Murphy and Fonagy 2012)

  • 1 in 10 young people experience a mental health disorder (Green et al 2005)

  • School learning, stress tolerance, confidence, motivation, personal relationships will be adversely affected (Layard 2008)

Some of the information were very surprising for me as even after talking with people who were struggling with similar problems, some of the facts were completely different. Of course, statistics are based on thousands of people and they represent only majority, but it still made me realise how each case differs from the other one.


Davies, T. and Craig, T. (2009). ABC of Mental Health. Chichester.

Dewey, C. (2013). A stunning map of depression rates around the world. [online] The Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/11/07/a-stunning-map-of-depression-rates-around-the-world/

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Global Health Observatory (GHO) data. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/gho/mental_health/en/

Mind. (2017). Mental health facts and statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#one

Anxiety UK. (n.d.). Young people and anxiety. [online] Available at: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/anxiety-information/young-people-and-anxiety/

Medical Research Council. (n.d.). Mental health research. [online] Available at: https://mrc.ukri.org/funding/science-areas/neurosciences-mental-health/our-science-and-contacts-nmhb/mental-health-research/

NHS Digital. (2018). Mental Health Services Monthly Statistics: Final November, Provisional December 2017. [online] Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20180307192501/https://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB30221