Woman taking pill by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash

NHS releases mental health medicines statistics for 2022/2023 in England

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has released their annual data report showing mental health prescribing in England over the last 12 months.

Five groups of drugs are analysed in the report, including antidepressants; hypnotics and anxiolytics; antipsychotics; central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs; and drugs for dementia.

The key findings of the report show:

  • There were 86 million antidepressant items prescribed in 2022/23, to an estimated 8.6 million identified patients.
  • Hypnotics and anxiolytics items and identified patients both decreased by 2%.
  • Four of the five drug groups had higher prescribing in the most deprived areas.
  • Of the five British National Formulary (BNF) sections covered in these statistics, four had increases in items and identified patients across 2022/23.
  • The only BNF section to decrease since 2021/22 was hypnotics and anxiolytics. Items prescribed in this category fell by 2% to 14 million and identified patients fell by 2% to 1.9 million in 2022/23.
  • Antidepressants remained the BNF section with the largest number of identified patients and items prescribed. In 2022/23, 86 million antidepressants were prescribed to an estimated 8.6 million identified patients. This was an increase of around 2%, or 200,000 more identified patients than 2021/22.
  • Prescribing of CNS stimulants and drugs for ADHD increased by 32% in adults over 18 and 12% in children aged 17 and under. 2022/23 was the first time that more adult patients have been prescribed drugs from this section than child patients since 2015, when the Medicines Used in Mental Health records date back to.
  • CNS stimulants and drugs for ADHD was the only BNF section with more identified patients who are male than identified patients who are female.

To see the statistical reports in full, visit: www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/statistical-collections/medicines-used-mental-health-england

Contact Information

Kate Blush

Senior Media and Campaigns Officer

NHS Business Services Authority


Notes to editors

  • These statistics are based on the financial year, and not the calendar year as some other sources of data may be.
  • Medicines are classified by their main use. However, they can sometimes be prescribed for other reasons. For example, some antidepressants can be used to treat people suffering from chronic primary pain. When prescriptions are processed by the NHSBSA, we don’t capture data on the condition(s) that a medicine was prescribed for. It’s therefore not possible to use this data to determine the reason that a prescription was issued. These statistics may not therefore give a completely accurate estimate of the number of patients 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 annual Medicines Used in Mental Health publication is part of a series published by the NHSBSA. This release is intended to continue the annual summary statistics released in each year, combined with the quarterly summary for quarter 4 of the 2022/23 financial year.
  • For this release we have changed some of the underlying methodology used to count patients, to align with patient counts in our other data products. We have also changed how we assign items and patients to an IMD quintile. The data now uses the postcode of the patient, rather than the postcode of the practice associated with the prescription.
  • Due to combining the annual and quarterly releases, we have published some demographic level and Integrated Care Board level information by financial quarter. Previously this data was only published by financial year.
  • More information on changes to the methodology can be found in the resources section of the Medicines Used in Mental Health England 2022/23 report.
  • For more information about the data, read ‘Section 1: Things you should know' of the Medicines Used in Mental Health England 2022/23 report.