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Thinking Locally

Importance of thinking locally for Mental Health: data from Cross-sectional Surveys Representing South East London and England (2011)

Stephani L. Hatch, Charlotte Woodhead, Souci Frissa, Nicola T. Fear, Maria Verdecchia, Robert Stewart, Abraham Reichenberg, Craig Morgan, Paul Bebbington, Sally McManus, Traolach Brugha, Bwalya Kankulu, Jennifer L. Carter, Billy Gazard, Robert Medcalf, Matthew Hotopf  



This paper aimed to compare how many people experience common mental disorders (such as depression and anxiety) and substance misuse (such as hazardous alcohol use and illicit drug use), in both, an inner-city population and the national population. National data provide important information in planning mental health services generally, but further information is needed to plan local services, especially in areas with high levels of poverty and migration. 

This study aimed to compare data on common mental disorder and substance use between people living in South East London and England as a whole.

How the study was conducted?

7,418 people (aged 16+) took part in the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), which studied mental health across England. They were compared to 1,698 people (aged 16+) from the South East London Community Health (SELCoH) study, which was carried out in the South London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, from 2008-2010. Both surveys gathered information on common mental disorders, problematic alcohol drinking and illicit drug use (such as cannabis, cocaine, and amphetamines) in the past year.

What did we find?

We found that common mental health problems in the South East London sample were two times higher than in the national sample. Depression was four times more common in the South East London sample than in the national survey and was the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder.

Less people reported problematic alcohol drinking in South East London than the national survey. However, illicit drug use in the past year was twice as high in South East London, than the rest of England, with cannabis and cocaine being the most commonly used drugs. Men reported more cannabis and cocaine use in the past year than women in both samples.


The findings from this study highlight the importance of looking at the differences between local and national public mental health and why local information is important for service planning.   


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