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Mental Health Services Data Set

The Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) collects data from the health records of individual children, young people and adults who are in contact with mental health services. The data is re-used for purposes other than their direct care and as such is referred to as a secondary uses data set. It defines data items, definitions and information extracted or derived from local information systems.


The MHSDS brings together information captured on clinical systems as part of patient care. It covers:

  • adult and older adult mental health
  • children and young people's mental health 
  • learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorders

The MHSDS covers not only services provided in hospitals but also outpatient clinics and in the community, where the majority of people in contact with these services are treated. 


In scope

All activity relating to people who receive specialist secondary mental health care services and have, or are thought to have, a mental illness; or who receive specialist secondary learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorder services and have, or are thought to have, a learning disability or autism spectrum disorder is within scope of the MHSDS.

The scope of the data set requires record level data submission from services as follows.

For each person attending a service located in England:

  • if the person is wholly funded by the NHS – data submission for that person is mandatory
  • if the person is partially funded by the NHS – data submission for that person is mandatory
  • if the person is wholly funded by any means that is not NHS – data submission is optional

For each person attending a service located outside England, but commissioned by an English CCG or NHS England specialised commissioner, data submission is optional.

It may be that the person has:

  • a mental illness
  • a learning disability 
  • an autism spectrum disorder
  • any combination of mental health, learning disability or autism spectrum disorder needs

Out of scope

The following areas are currently out of scope and should not be included within MHSDS:

  • any patient receiving treatment through a specialist mental health, learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorder care provider but is not thought to have a mental illness, learning disability or autism spectrum disorder, for example smoking cessation services, addictions and substance misuse services, some alternative therapy services or some counselling services
  • mental health, learning disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder services provided only at a primary care level (such as within general practices or adult IAPT).

NHS funded care providers must submit MHSDS data

It is mandatory for NHS funded care providers, including independent sector providers, to submit MHSDS data. Data for non-NHS funded clients can also now be submitted on an optional basis. 

Read how to submit data to the MHSDS.

Use our submission tracker, a list of organisations who submit data to the MHSDS and are deemed to be in scope.  

Multiple submission window model for MHSDS

A multiple submission window model for the MHSDS will be available to providers from 1 April 2020.  Please refer to the details on our submissions page for further information.

The MHSDS is a national information standard

MHSDS v4.1 (DCB0011) is the latest version of the information standard to be approved by the Data Coordination Board (DCB), data collection for v4.1 commences 1 April 2020, replacing the previous v4.0 collection.  

The information standard defines the data items, definitions and associated value sets to be extracted or derived from local information systems.

The associated ISN's and standard documentation can be found on the DCB0011 publication page.

Previous versions of the MHSDS are available on the government national archives site.

How the MHSDS is used

The MHSDS has a number of uses including for:

  • commissioning services
  • clinical audit
  • research
  • service planning
  • inspection and regulation
  • monitoring government policies and legislation
  • local and national performance management and benchmarking
  • national reporting and analysis

The MHSDS is the data source used by Mental Health Currencies and Payment (formerly PbR). As such, the Mental Health Care Clusters, and Mental Health Clustering Tool are implemented through the MHSDS.

MHSDS statistics offer a comprehensive national picture of the use of specialist mental health, learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorder services in England. It can be used by:

  • policy makers
  • commissioners
  • mental health service users
  • members of the public

Future development of the MHSDS – Version 5.0

Development of MHSDS v5.0 commenced earlier this year for an April 2021 go-live, in keeping with the annual update strategy that has been in place in recent years. 

In view of the current pressures on the system, at both a local and national level, a decision has been taken to delay the go-live for v5.0 until 1 October 2021. 

This extension allows for the essential stakeholder consultations and assurance processes to be resumed at a more appropriate time in the year, which would have otherwise been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. NHS Digital look forward to engaging on the proposals and will share details of consultation opportunities once these can be confirmed. 

The Data Set Development Service would like to extend the opportunity for stakeholders to contribute requirements and feedback for consideration within the v5.0 development cycle. To submit feedback, we have created the new data set requirement capture form which you will be able to access through our next MHSDS monthly newsletter. Please look out for the newsletter in your mailbox shortly, and please complete the form as soon as practical to do so. 

As a consequence of the v5.0 delay, there will also be a delay to a future version v6.0, which would have been scheduled for April 2022. Further details around long term planning will be shared in due course.  

MHSDS v5.0 Consultation Webinars

As part of our consultation for v5.0 of the MHSDS, NHS England and NHS Digital will shortly be scheduling a series of webinar events which will be communicated via our Contact Centre. The attached webinar schedule outlines details of each webinar, and once registration becomes available, a link to register for each webinar will be included within the webinar schedule accordingly.

Both registration details and slide packs for each webinar once available, will also be published on our MHSDS Events page, so you may wish to refer back to this page for full details in due course.


MHSDS Draft Technical Output Specification

**This version of the MHSDS Technical Output Specification is in draft format and SHOULD NOT be used for development. This version is for consultation purposes only and may be useful for reference ahead of our forthcoming MHSDS Webinar events**

MHSDS change requirements list

The MHSDS change requirements list includes a current list of requirements that have been submitted to NHS Digital and are being investigated by the Data Set Development Service (DSDS) for implementation into a future version of the MHSDS.

DSDS will be working with stakeholders to develop these requirements and will be updating this document as progress is made.

Contact details

If you have a general enquiry about Mental Health or Maternity data sets, please email our Contact Centre on or telephone us on 0300 303 5678.

If you require any operational support using SDCS Cloud, please contact the National Service Desk 0300 303 5035 or

Further information

  1. internal

    Submit data to the Mental Health Services Data Set

    All providers of specialist secondary mental health, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder services should submit to the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS). This page explains how.

  2. internal

    Mental Health Services Monthly Statistics

    This monthly statistical release makes available the most recent MHSDS data from January 2016 onwards and replaces the Monthly MHLDS Reports (last published in February). The release provides the most up to date information available about care given to users of NHS funded secondary mental health, learning disability and autism services for all ages in England.

  3. internal

    Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) submission update

    The MHSDS applies to all service service providers and organisations that provide specialist secondary mental health, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder services. This report shows those providers providing a submission compared to those NHS Digital currently consider to be in scope for the collection.

  4. internal

    Keeping patient data safe

    We are the guardians of patient data, making sure it's protected, and only ever used for the good of health and care. We advise health and care on cyber and data security.

Last edited: 19 November 2020 3:14 pm