How common are mild to moderate mental health problems?

Emotional wellbeing is a state which can fluctuate from day to day:

  • Mild to moderate problems can be regular occurrences
  • Varying in severity and frequency
  • According to strengths, vulnerabilities and life circumstances

Common mental health problems affect many people and the majority will deal with these without requiring any intervention from health or social services; self-help or support from families and friends will suffice.

Such problems include anxiety disorders and depression but the level of psychotic symptoms in the general population also seem to be much higher than was previously understood1.

  • 6,000,000 people in England experience depression or severe anxiety conditions at any time yet three quarters of each group get no treatment 2.
  • 0.4% have psychosis (‘schizophrenia’) or bipolar disorder.
  • A further 17% of the population experiences sub-threshold common mental problems, six per cent have sub-threshold psychosis.

Sub-threshold health status can present an important opportunity for prevention and early intervention3.