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One in five young women have common mental health disorder

One in five women aged 16-24 have a common mental disorder (CMD), for example anxiety or depression, and are a 'high risk group’, according to a report on mental health in England.

The NHS Digital report showed that one the whole, one in six adults in England had a common mental disorder in 2014 - about one woman in five, and one man in eight.

Rates in women, but not men, have increased since 2000, particularly in the younger age group. In 1993, 19% of women aged 16-24 had symptoms of a CMD, compared to 8% of men. This gap had increased to 26% of women and 9% of men in 2014.

The report also found that rates of self-harming have increased since 2007, although this could be due to increased awareness. Most of the mental disorders were more common in unemployed people, people living alone and those in poor physical health, with people claiming Employment and Support Allowance having particularly high rates of all disorders.

With regard to treatment, one in three people with a CMD reported using mental health treatment (up from one in four from 2000 to 2007), with medication the most common form of treatment. However people who were white British, female or aged 35-54 were more likely to receive treatment than other groups, with black people having particularly low treatment rates.

The survey has been carried out every seven years since 1993, by interviewing a representative sample of the household population. This survey interviewed 7,500 people in total.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: ‘Nothing has improved when it comes to the prevalence of mental health problems in England. It’s also particularly concerning to see the amount of women experiencing common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, has risen. It’s shocking that a quarter of young women have been self-harming, and a fifth of adults have felt suicidal.'

But he added that it was 'difficult to know the exact reasons behind these changes' and it was also 'worth bearing in mind that this could be an indication that more people are coming forward if and when they are concerned about their own mental health', while another positive aspects could be 'GPs and other health professionals... quickly recognising symptoms and prescribing relevant treatments and services where necessary'.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Oh it's great to be alive

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  • I'm sorry but if you are classifying something that 1 in 5 people have as a 'disorder' then there is something pretty wrong with your classification system. If 1 in 5 have it, it is in fact so common as to be pretty 'normal' ...by definition. Soon we'll be hearing that everyone of us is mentally unwell..which is actually probably closer to reality. Maybe then we will stop this relentless drive to medicalise everybodies imperfections.

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  • Sort the weather out then it'll get better

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  • Anonymous | Sessional/Locum GP29 Sep 2016 9:55pm

    Although I see your point

    there has been a huge increase in female depression. And certainly huge increase in those receiving medications.

    Even the marketing depts have recognized this and are trying to convince some of the research depts to look at female depression issues as a distinct entity! ( obviously a marketing approach!)

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  • Nah. I agree with poster above - it it's 20% then it's normal and you're medicalising societal disatisfaction

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  • Women should reject this nonsense on the grounds of sexism.
    They are rightly making a case for equality, why are they prepared to accept that when it comes to mental health women are more susceptible than men?

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  • This is a societal, cultural issue. Should be being addressed as public health concern.

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  • @Anonymous | GP Partner30 Sep 2016 11:30am


    Odd argument. Do males and females not frequently have different incidences of diseases/conditions?

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