Mental health

Mental health illness account for 1 in 3 fit notes

NHS Digital uncover new mental health statistic

Mental health illnesses represented 31% of all fit notes in England between December 2014 and March 2017This was the most prevalent reason for giving out a fit note, new figures from NHS Digital have uncovered.

It’s the first time data has been collected

NHS Digital collected anonymous information for the first time covering General Practitioner practices. These practices are accountable for two-thirds of working age patients. These patients are registered in England with a General Practitioner.

Mentally ill account for third of sick notes
NHS Digital have found a third of fit notes given out by GPs were for mental illness.

Information from over twelve million fit notes over a 28-month duration have been evaluated. Of these around 5.8 million had a recognized diagnosis. 

1 in 5 fit notes were for 3 months absence

From the information analyzed, 1.8 million fit notes were handed out where the diagnosis was a behavioral or mental health conditionOf the incidents for mental health and behavioral conditions, about 1 in five were for time off work for more than three months.


14% increase in stress and anxiety


Extra data showed that:

  • A 14% increase of fit notes written for stress and anxiety. This is an increase of about 14% from 503,000 to 573,000.
  • January 2017 saw the greatest number of fit notes written, with 556,000 given out during that month.
  • NHS Knowsley documented the greatest number of fit notes produced per 100,000 working age registered patients in March 2017. With 4,123 fit notes issued per 100,000 people.
  • NHS Richmond recorded the fewest amount of fit notes written per 100,000 working age registered patients in March 2017. With 977 fit notes issued per 100,000 people.
  • On a national level, the number of fit notes written in March 2017 was 2,334 per 100,000 working age registered patients.
  • Females continuously represented over half of the total number of fit notes given out in the reporting period. From a low of 53.8 per cent in August 2015 to a high of 57.8 per cent in January 2017.
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Alan is a mental health service user in Cornwall, UK. Although generally the NHS has been very good with his care, their are some weak links. Thats why he started this blog, to share experiences and resources on various mental health illnesses. Also, to bring the headlines about mental health to the foreground. Alan enjoys walking his dogs, taking photos, watching movies and playing the PS4 :-)

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