New figures on detentions under the Mental Health Act in 2019-20 published today

The rate of detentions under the Mental Health Act in England for black or black British people was more than four times higher than for white people in 2019-20, a new report shows.

Mental Health Act Statistics 2019-20, published by NHS Digital, provides the official statistics about people with a mental disorder who are detained under the Act in hospital, in the interests of their own health or for the safety and protection of others. It covers people in secure psychiatric hospitals, other NHS trusts and independent providers1.

The publication includes a breakdown by broad ethnic groups, which shows that for the black or black British group, there were 321.7 detentions per 100,000 population, compared to 73.4 per 100,000 population for the white group.

In total 50,893 new detentions under the Mental Health Act were recorded in 2019-20 in England, but the overall number will be higher. Not all providers submitted data and some submitted incomplete data2.

There was a slight increase in the number of new detentions compared to 2018-19, when 49,988 were recorded. However, changes in data quality affect comparisons over time. Using the subset of providers that submitted good quality3 detentions data in each of the last three years, we estimate there was a 0.8 per cent increase in detentions from 2018-19 to 2019-204.

For the first time, this publication includes data relating to detentions under the Act broken down by deprivation5. Rates of detentions in the most deprived areas (147.9 per 100,000 population) were almost three and a half times higher than the rate of detention in the least deprived areas (42.8 per 100,000).

The 2019-20 publication also includes comparisons based on age and sex using population-based rates.

Known detention rates were higher for men (91.8 per 100,000 population) than women (84.4 per 100,000 population).

The age group with the highest rate of detentions was 18 to 34 year olds (129.8 detentions per 100,000 population). The rate decreased through the age bands to a rate of 92.5 per 100,000 population for those aged 50 to 64, before rising again slightly for people aged 65 and over, to 95.0 per 100,000 population.

The publication also covers people treated in the community under a Community Treatment Order (CTO)6. In 2019-20, 4,650 uses of a CTO were recorded.

Known rates of Community Treatment Order use by age, sex and ethnicity are also included in the report.



  1. This report does not cover:

People in hospital voluntarily for mental health treatment, as they have not been detained under the Act.

Uses of Section 136 where the place of safety was a police station. These figures are published by the Home Office.

  1. Former submitters to the KP90 collection who have not submitted this year are highlighted in the report. Providers who missed one or more monthly submissions have been shown as having incomplete data submissions.
  2. The report contains trend estimates from a group of providers where the data quality has been judged to be sufficient to make a comparison. Further information is provided in the Background Data Quality Report.
  3. National data published from the 2016-17 publication onwards cannot be compared to previous publications due to a change in the data set. However, an estimate of the percentage change in detentions is provided each year.
  4. The Index of Multiple Deprivation, commonly known as the IMD, is the official measure of relative deprivation for small areas in England. It is the most widely used of the Indices of Deprivation. The Index of Multiple Deprivation ranks every small area in England from 1 (most deprived area) to 32,844 (least deprived area). Deciles are calculated by ranking the 32,844 neighbourhoods in England from most deprived to least deprived and dividing them into 10 equal groups. These range from the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods nationally to the least deprived 10% of neighbourhoods nationally. The IMD for each detention is derived from the Postcode of Usual Address for the person.
  5. People treated under a Community Treatment Order (CTO) are subject to recall to hospital for assessment and/or treatment.
  6. Local comparisons in this current publication may be subject to data quality issues due to missing or incomplete data returns. Further guidance on data quality, including information at provider level, is included in the publication.