NHS releases latest mental health medicines statistics

NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has released its latest data via the Medicines Used in Mental Health report, covering July to September 2021.

In this period, 20.8 million antidepressant drugs were prescribed, a 1.28% increase from 20.5 million items in the previous quarter, and a 6.15% increase from 19.6 million items for the same quarter in 2020/21.

For the second quarter running, drugs for dementia showed an upward trend. In the second quarter of 2021/22 there were 1.02 million drugs for dementia prescribed, a 2.53% increase from 997,000 items in the previous quarter. This is also a 1.84% increase from one million items in the same quarter in 2020/21.

In the 19-month period since lockdown measures were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, between March 2020 and September 2021:

  • There were 1.54 million more antidepressant prescription items issued than expected based on historical trends. However, this was not a statistically significant increase for the period.
  • There were 606,000 fewer drugs for dementia prescription items issued than expected based on historical trends. This was a statistically significant decrease for the period.

The report covers five main groups of medicines: Hypnotics and anxiolytics (used to treat insomnia and anxiety); antidepressants; drugs for dementia; drugs used in psychoses and related disorders; and central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and drugs used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The data is based on community prescribing and excludes hospitals and prisons.

To see the full statistical reports follow the links below:

Latest release - Quarterly (July-September 2021):

Annual publication:

For dates of upcoming statistical publication releases, including the annual Prescriptions Cost Analysis, visit:

Contact Information

Sahdia Hassen


Notes to editors

Please note:

  • Prescription ‘items’ refer to individual drugs or inhalers etc on a prescription form, however a ‘prescription’ can include multiple medicines on it.
  • These statistics are based on the financial year and not on the calendar year as some other sources of data may be.
  • These medicines are classified by their main usage. However, they can sometimes be prescribed for other reasons. For example, some antidepressants can be used to treat people suffering from chronic primary pain. We don’t capture this at NHSBSA during processing, and so can’t determine the reason that a prescription was issued. Due to this, these statistics may not give a completely accurate estimation of the population receiving treatment for a specific mental health condition. Drug therapy is just one way that mental health conditions can be treated. These statistics do not tell us how many patients access other forms of treatment, such as psychological therapy.

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