Photo of pills by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

NHS releases latest mental health medicines statistics

NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has released its latest data, ‘Medicines Used in Mental Health’, covering October to December 2022.

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).

Key findings showed that between October and December 2022:

  • 22 million antidepressant items were prescribed to an estimated 6.6 million identified patients.
  • Prescribing of CNS stimulants and drugs for ADHD items increased by 6%.
  • Prescribing of drugs for dementia items remained below expected values based on pre-pandemic trends.

Of the five British National Formulary (BNF) drug groups covered in these statistics, antidepressants remained the section with the largest number of identified patients and items prescribed. Between October to December 2022, 22 million antidepressants were prescribed to an estimated 6.6 million identified patients. These were small increases compared to the previous quarter.

Prescribing of CNS stimulants and drugs for ADHD increased by 6% over the same period to 646,000 items, the largest percentage change of all drug groups in this publication. Antipsychotics and drugs for dementia also showed small increases in prescribing.

Hypnotics and anxiolytics were the only group of drugs that showed a decrease in prescribing between October to December 2022. Identified patients decreased by a slightly greater proportion than items but remained above one million patients.

All drug groups saw a small decrease in both items prescribed and identified patients from November to December 2022. This is the first time since 2018 that items and identified patients have both decreased during this time of year across all sections.

The data in this report is based on community prescribing and excludes hospitals and prisons.

To see the full statistical report go to 

Contact Information

Sahdia Hassen

Senior Media and Campaigns Officer

NHS Business Services Authority

Notes to editors

Notes for editors:

  • Prescription ‘items’ refer to individual drugs or inhalers etc. on a prescription form, however a ‘prescription’ (form) 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. The British National Formulary (BNF), which this publication uses, lists medicines used in the UK and classifies them according to their primary therapeutic use.
  • Statistical significance refers to when a result from data generated by testing or experimentation is not likely to occur randomly or by chance but is instead likely to be attributable to a specific cause.
  • Quarterly - occurring once every three months of the year.