Adult Mental Health Indicators

A set of national mental health indicators has been established for adults in Scotland. Find out about these indicators, the process undertaken and what the data for these indicators show.

Final adult mental health indicator set

The initial focus on establishing mental health indicators for Scotland was on indicators for adults and the national indicators were finalised December 2007. These indicators cover both positive mental health (mental wellbeing) as well as mental health problems and are structured under constructs (categories) of two types:

  1. high level constructs of mental health status — outcome measures
  2. contextual constructs — covering the risk and protective factors and the consequences of mental health, which may be at an individual, community or structural level.

They provide a summary mental health profile in Scotland, and a way of monitoring the state of mental health and its context in Scotland, at a national level and will help inform decision-making about priorities for action and resource allocation.

The final report on adult mental health indicators (2007) sets out the background, objectives, process and achievements of this work. It also includes the rationale and an overview of the evidence-base for the indicators as well as the list of the indicators and their data sources.

The final briefing paper (2007) provides a summary of the final output from the work including the recommendations, the indicators, their measures and associated data source.

A rationale paper (2007) documents clearly the thinking and reasons behind, and constraints involved in, decisions that have been taken during the course of the work.

An article in the Journal of Public Mental Health 2006 (Volume 5 Issue 1 p42-48) described the indicators programme in its entirety.

Analysis of the data for the indicators

Available data for the indicators were analysed in 2009 and 2012. Scotland´s Mental Health and its Context: Adults 2009 provided the first systematic assessment of the mental health and associated contextual factors of the adult population of Scotland. It presented single point-in-time estimates and, where possible, an analysis of time trends over the last decade and equalities analysis by age, gender and either area-based deprivation or individual socio-economic status. Scotland´s Mental Health: Adults 2012 presents more recent available data.

Sub-national availability of data for the adult mental health indicators

Whilst having a national remit, the considerable interest in establishing local mental health indicators has been recognised. A briefing paper has, therefore, been prepared to help local areas in making decisions. This paper Monitoring of mental health locally: Sub-national availability of data for the national mental health indicators for adults August 2008 provides details on the main sub-national geographies at which the data for the national adult mental health indicators are availability.

The Scottish Health Survey (external link) has also produced a paper Scottish Health Survey Analysis by Local Authority or Health Board (2009) (Word document) summarising when results for different sub-Scotland geographies are available (with associated measures of precision of these results). These results are estimates - more precise calculations will be available once analysis of the 2008 data is completed.

Subsequent work for the adult mental health indicators

Work is required for four of the adult mental health indicators - spirituality, emotional intelligence, ´escape facility´ and attitudes to violence - in order to operationalise them. The Scottish Centre for Social Research (Scotcen) was commissioned to develop robust survey questions for the ´escape facility´ and attitudes to violence indicators. The Development of survey questions on attitudes to violence and escape facilities: Final report outlines the work to develop the questions, part of which involved testing the draft questions through inclusion in the 2009 Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) Survey.

Process in establishing the adult mental health indicators

The work used a mixed approach taking into account current data, policy, evidence, expert-opinion and theory. It drew on expertise from across a range of sectors and there were six key stages, to:

  1. determine a desirable set of defined mental health and well-being indicators
  2. review relevant Scottish data currently collected nationally, to maximise the use of data already gathered
  3. identify and establish consensus on a set of practical indicators for which data are currently available
  4. identify additional data needs and recommend new data that should be collected to fill the gaps between the set of practical indicators and the desirable set
  5. explore approaches to collect the recommended new data, and work to develop the data collection systems for desired indicators where they do not currently exist through influencing data collection systems to ensure that these adequately cover mental health and its context
  6. ensure the sustainable collection of both current and new data for the indicator set.

Supporting documents from the work

Commissioned supporting work included

          Appendix E Contents and Copyright
          Appendix E Scales A-E
          Appendix E Scales F-M
          Appendix E Scales O-R
          Appendix E Scales S-T
          Appendix E Scales V-W

Contact for the indicators work

If you have comments on the indicators project or require further information please contact Jane Parkinson –

Updated 15 August 2016

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