Bipolar disorder: prevalence, help-seeking and use of mental health care in England. Findings from the 2014 adult psychiatric morbidity survey

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  • UCL Medical School



To date, the lifetime prevalence of Bipolar Disorder (BD) and BD patients’ access to mental health care in England has not been systematically studied.


We used data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 (N = 7546). The Mood Disorders Questionnaire (MDQ) was used to screen for BD. Associations between sociodemographic and clinical variables and use of mental health services were investigated. Weighted regression modelling established factors associated with being in receipt of care for mental health problems over the last year.


The lifetime prevalence of BD in the community in England was 1.7%. Approximately 40% had not received mental health care in the last year, and only 16.9% had received BD specific treatment. 14.6% had asked for a specific form of help but not received it. Psychopathology differed between individuals who successfully sought care and those who didn't. Obtaining care was independently associated with female sex (p<0.0001, odds ratio(OR):4.65 (Confidence Interval (CI):2.18–10.30), unemployment (p = 0.02, OR: 2.65 (C.I: 1.23–5.88) and suicidal ideation (p = 0.04, OR: 3.36, (C.I: 1.04–10.89).


The MDQ is less sensitive than some of the longer measures, especially in the general population. Some between-group comparisons may have suffered from limited power.


The lifetime prevalence of BD in England was similar to rates worldwide. Most people with BD had not received any specific treatment for the condition in the last year, while 1 in 7 had requested specific help but did not receive it. Secondary mental health services in England for BD appear suboptimal.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: SM has received funding from Lundbeck, Sunovion and Janssen to attend educational events. Other authors declare no conflicts.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-433
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date30 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Bipolar disorder, Epidemiology, Household survey, Mental health care, Prevalence