Changes to published statistics on uses of the Mental Health Act

NHS Digital must be quoted as the source of these figures

Regional data are available

Mental Health Act2 Statistics, Annual Figures 2016/17, is published today by NHS Digital, using a different data source which allows for new insights but restricts comparisons with previous years.

Data source

Previously, these statistics were produced from the KP903 aggregate data collection. They are now produced from the Mental Health Services Data Set (MHSDS) which re-uses existing operational data, collected from service providers. This change is estimated to save the NHS over £350,000 per year.

The report publishes the same measures as in previous years, however the 2016/17 figures are not directly comparable to those published in previous years for the following reasons:

  • not all providers submitted data for 2016/17 and some submitted incomplete data
  • data completeness is still improving
  • these statistics are sourced from a different type of data (record-level data rather than an aggregate data collection) and the methods used to analyse the data have also changed

Due to gaps in coverage from the MHSDS, the numbers presented in this publication (such as the number of detentions, or people detained), are incomplete at national level. They should not be directly compared to figures from previous years.

Insights and content

Under the act, people with a mental health 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 be detained in secure psychiatric hospitals, NHS Trusts or at Independent Service Providers (ISPs).

The use of a record-level data source has enabled new demographic analyses, including rates for different groups of people. Although these rates are understated due to shortfalls in coverage, comparisons can be made between rates for different groups of people.

New information in the report includes:

  • detention rates by gender
  • detention rates by age
  • detention rates by ethnicity
  • detention rates by Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) area

Rates for gender, age and ethnicity are also provided for Section 136 and Community Treatment Orders.

The use of the new, more granular data source has also provided insights into changes in the number of detentions.

Further guidance on using these statistics is provided in the Background Data Quality Report.

Read the Mental Health Act Statistics, Annual Figures 2016/17.


Notes to editors

  1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology provider for the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2016/17 financial year, NHS Digital published 294 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

  2. As announced in last year's report, the name of this publication has also changed. Previously it was named 'Inpatients formally detained in hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983 and patients subject to Supervised Community Treatment'. Further details about changes to the way the statistics are sourced and produced were announced in a special report last year (link to )

  3. The KP90 has been the official source of data for these statistics since 1996/97, when the collection was introduced by Department of Health to provide information on detained patients. It was transferred to NHS Digital in 2005/06. KP90 collected information as annual, aggregate data.

  4. For media enquiries or interview requests, please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888.