Mental health prevalence data

 lady holding head in hands

In 2009, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)1 found that a third of the British working age population could be experiencing distress or a mental health condition, at any point in time; and that one-sixth would meet the clinical diagnostic criteria for a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.

They note that around 1 in 100 working age adults have a more severe mental health condition such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia. The working age population is currently defined as being aged 16-59 for females and 16-64 for men2.

Welsh statistics are similar in that Friedli and Parsonage3 noted that 'at any one time nearly 1 in 6 (approximately 16%) of the Welsh workforce is affected by a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety'.

The Welsh Health Survey 2008-2009, indicates that across Wales, 10% of adults self-reported as receiving treatment for mental health illness, including stress, depression, or any other mental health illness. The discrepancy could be explained by under-reporting due to the associated stigma and cultural expectations. The same survey showed that the percentage of working age adults self-reporting as receiving treatment for mental illness is lowest in Powys Local Health Board and highest in Cwm Taf Local Health Board.


The above UK and Welsh figures do have one major proviso, and that is that it can be difficult to categorise people as having one specific condition, as many present with more than one. What is certain though is that ‘mental ill-health is now the most common reason for claiming health-related benefits’1

Cultural differences relating to depression

Mental illness prevalence data varies considerably for different populations and between migrants and those born in the UK. Psychological distress in ehtnic minorities may be poorly recognised in primary care for a number of reasons and it has been noted that Black and ethnic minority patients are often under represented within counselling and psychotherapeutic services. Reasons for the variability in diagnosis of depression and other mental illness include different help seeking behaviour, language barriers and problems with the application of the standard screening tools for depression (HADS and PHQ-9) which are often inappropriate. 

Here, in Wales, there are also cultural and language differences of Welsh speakers as compared with English speakers.


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