This website is now part of Public Health Scotland. Publications released after 16 March 2020 are now published on the Public Health Scotland website.
Improving health
Previously NHS Health Scotland

Adult mental health indicators

A national set of adult mental health indicators for Scotland commissioned by the Scottish Government was finalised in December 2007. These indicators cover both mental wellbeing (positive mental health) and mental health problems.

They are grouped under two types of constructs (categories)

  1. mental health status — mental wellbeing and mental health problems
  2. contextual factors — the risk factors, protective factors and the consequences of mental health (at an individual, community or structural level).

Using the adult mental health indicators

The indicator set can be used to monitor the state of mental health, the risk and protective factors for adults (at a national and local level) and inequalities in these. They can inform decision making about priorities for action and resource allocation. They have been used to

  • create national and local reports on population mental health
  • inform strategy, interventions and strategic planning
  • identify contributions to mental health improvement programmes
  • create wider awareness of the determinants of mental wellbeing
  • strengthen the link between the determinants of mental health and interventions
  • inform the development of other indicators for impact assessment.

The full indicator set, recommendations, the rationale behind the work, the background (evidence base), objectives and process are available for download.

Two of the indicators, emotional intelligence and spirituality, require the development of survey questions before they can be reported on. But questions were developed and have allowed reporting on indicators of escape facilities and attitudes to violence. The 'Development of survey questions on attitudes to violence and escape facilities: Final report' outlines that work.

National reporting on the adult mental health indicators

Data was analysed for almost the full indicator set in 2009 and 2012. A full report, briefing, technical supplement and charts are available.

The 2012 report shows that Scotland’s mental health (over the previous decade or so) was broadly stable with a promising level of positive change and only a small number of negative trends for some indicators. There were clear inequalities by socioeconomic status, age and gender.

The older data report and associated data files are also available on the ScotPHO site at Scotland’s Mental Health and its Context: Adults 2009 (full report) (external site).

We no longer produce bespoke reports on the adult indicator set but many of the indicators are reported on at national and local level in the ScotPHO profiles (external site).

Local availability of data for the adult mental health indicators

The indicators can be reported at a local level if data is available. A briefing paper provides details on availability of adult mental health indicator data for the main sub-national geographies in 2008.

Measuring mental wellbeing

The Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) was created during this work. The scale can be used to assess the overall mental wellbeing of an adult population.

Guidance is available for practitioners on how to measure mental wellbeing including how to select an appropriate scale. This includes suggested scales for assessing aspects of mental wellbeing and outlines their strengths and shortcomings. It was developed from a review of scales and questions for measuring aspects of mental wellbeing. We have included the list of scales and review to help you.

You can contact us about our adult mental health indicator work.