Mental health inequalities: measuring what counts

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health
Centre for Mental Health
Date of publication
10 February 2010
Mental health services
Social welfare
Material type

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Just as there is no health without mental health, there is no equality without mental health equality. There is sufficient demonstrable proof that the interaction between good or poor mental health and a range of health and social outcomes is profound.

But there is little useful supporting data or measures to collect them. Developing new metrics, adapting existing ones and ensuring that data are used in the most effective way are vital not just to determine what progress is being made to reducing mental health inequalities but also to offer incentives to a range of public services to ‘do their bit’.

This paper looks at what measures are currently available to create a meaningful and useable picture of inequalities in mental health in England and at what additional measures are needed to fill in the gaps. It is based on a seminar organised jointly between the Department of Health and Sainsbury Centre in 2009.

It concludes that some data already exist that can shed light both on the unequal distribution of mental ill health in society and on the unequal life chances faced by people with mental health problems. But there remain big gaps both in terms of what data are collected by public services and in the way existing data are used to shed light on people’s experiences and to motivate services to do better.

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