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Mental Health Act statistics

Interactive visualisations for rates of use of the Mental Health Act for different groups of people and information on data quality.

Under the Mental Health Act, people with a mental disorder may be formally detained in hospital (or 'sectioned') in the interests of their own health or safety, or for the protection of other people. They can also be treated in the community but subject to recall to hospital for assessment and/or treatment under a Community Treatment Order (CTO).

People may also be placed under Short Term Detention Orders for mental health disorders by the police, and taken to a 'place of safety'. We report such uses where the place of safety was a hospital.

These statistics are derived from the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) which reuses operational data produced by NHS and independent providers. The data are known to be incomplete and are therefore an undercount at England level. 

This report presents selected measures from the 2016-17 publications onwards alongside provider-level data quality information to help users understand the impact of local data quality issues.

New Mental Health Act time series dashboard

The dashboard allows you to compare rates of detention, uses of short term orders (section 136 only) and uses of Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) between different age groups, ethnicities, genders and deprivation scales.

New features of the dashboard include:

  • sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) map and bar chart where you can select desired breakdown and demographic value to show differences between all STPs (or single STP) for all detentions in 2022-23
  • crosstab functionality which allows you to select any 2 combinations of age, gender and ethnicity and see counts/crude rates of detentions at these demographic groupings
  • both data quality submissions and coverage dashboards from previous years have been integrated into this single the dashboard

How to use this tool

This tool is best used by expanding to full screen mode, using the diagonal arrows on the bottom right of the visualisation.

To filter results, please refer to the specific instructions accompanying each visualisation.

To clear filtered results, hover your mouse underneath any filtered option heading to enable the ‘Clear selections’ eraser icon. Select this icon to clear previous selections and filtered results.

Accessibility of this tool

This tool is in Microsoft PowerBI which does not fully support all accessibility needs. You can find the source data in our Mental Health Act Statistics Annual Figures publication page. If you need further assistance, please contact us for help.

What you can find out
  • Comparisons of rates of detention under the Mental Health Act, for different age groups, or ethnicities or genders, as derived from the MHSDS.
  • Comparisons of rates of detention under the Mental Health Act, by STP area, as derived from the MHSDS.
  • Information about the quality of Mental Health Act data in the MHSDS, including information by provider and data table.
What the report can't tell you
  • How many people were subject to the Mental Health Act, as the MHSDS data are known to be incomplete.
  • If variations by STP area are due to variations in levels of uses of the Mental Health Act or due to data quality limitations.
  • If  changes in detentions or people detained at provider level are due to data quality issues or changes in service capacity or configuration. Local knowledge may be needed to accurately interpret these changes.

More information

Notes and data sources

  1. These statistics were produced from the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) for the first time in 2016/17, allowing new breakdowns to be produced for this subject. Find more information about the MHSDS.
  2. Map boundaries are displayed by STP.


All values are rounded to the nearest 5, except values that are 4 or lower (including 0) which are suppressed to prevent the identification of individuals.

Figures produced by aggregation in this report may differ from those published as this report calculates totals as the sum of rounded figures.

Suppressed values appear as blank cells in tables and are not counted in rounded totals.

Percentages are based on pre-suppressed values and rounded to zero decimal places, except where the numerator is 0-4, where the percentage is suppressed.

Last edited: 25 January 2024 12:28 pm