Improving mental health through better data

By Kate Croft.  16 May 2018

This #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek I was uplifted by the mental health journey NHS Digital is taking, and extremely proud to be able to help transform mental health services through the day to day work I do.

I’m part of a multi-disciplinary NHS funded mental health, learning disabilities, autism and Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. In doing so we are uncovering new insights that help support the vision set out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. This aims to make it easier for everyone to access high quality services, bringing together mental health and physical health care, and to stop people from having mental health problems through the promotion of good mental health.

Through NHS Digital’s recent innovative developments and analysis we have:

  • Made it easier for users understand mental health data through our new Mental Health Data Hub including several interactive visualisations in Power BI to help those who want to further explore findings,
  • Improved understanding of perinatal mental health care through our linkage of Mental Health and Maternity data,
  • Provided insights to help the Prime Minister’s Review of mental health legislation,
  • Delivered wider access and use of the data across Arms Length Bodies and other organisations through our Data Access Request Service (DARS),
  • Supported awareness of ethnicity inequalities through the Cabinet Office’s Ethnicity Facts and Figures,
  • Collected and provided information about activity and outcomes for patients taking part in pilot programmes offering integrated IAPT services and an increased number of Employment Advisors embedded in IAPT services,
  • Published our monthly statistics earlier, and with other data from other organisations to give users a more comprehensive understanding,
  • Continuously develop our analysis to give providers and commissioners the information they need to help them understand their services over time, how they compare to others and help address inequalities across care,
  • Supported providers to submit good quality data through events, WebExs, improved guidance, and publishing more data about data quality,
  • Developed plans to reduce the burden of data collection by removing duplicate
  • Worked with stakeholders including Department of Health policy, NHS England, Care Quality Commission, service providers and commissioners to collect new data to support policy through new versions of the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS), with data for version 3.0 started collection on 1 April 2018.

We’ve got lots more planned for the future. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing in the autumn the results of Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey which aims to estimate the prevalence of developmental and mental health disorders in 2-19 years olds. The last survey was in 2004, and so the results will be essentially in improving understanding and ensuring appropriate services can be designed.