Future indicators

Understanding how quickly people are able to access services, the quality of care they receive, and their outcomes is vital to good health care planning and delivery. Data on mental health is collected by a number of national health bodies but consistent and reliable data still lags behind other areas of healthcare.

Being able to review data showing recruitment, retention and morale of the workforce, the funding available to deliver mental health services, and the leadership capability across local areas is essential in understanding why some services are performing well, while others lag behind.

Good information about this exists, but it is not analysed in a co-ordinated way. Mental Health Watch seeks to address some of these issues.

We want to see NHS Digital make significant progress on their MHSDS and IAPT data quality improvement plan, working alongside other arms-length bodies. 

A key part of this work should include:
  • patient and carer outcomes and experience measures being used and collected across mental health services with the ability to disaggregate these data by protected characteristics, as recommended in the Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework (PCREF)
  • outcomes measures that are collected and recorded in digitally enabled care, remote and online interventions, as well as through face-to-face contact, and
  • an improvement in the coverage and completeness of data submitted by providers.

Alongside this, we recommend that NHS Digital and NHS England/Improvement prioritise the collection and recording of data across the following areas during 2021/22:

1. Referral to treatment waiting times for access to evidence based perinatal mental health services.
2. Proportion of cases (adult and children and young people measured separately) who receive mental health treatment following a referral for mental health support from learning and disability services.
3. Collection and recording of routine outcomes measures for:
a. perinatal mental health care
b. children and young people’s mental health care
c. community mental health care
d. adult crisis and acute mental health care
e. integrated IAPT service
f. adult eating disorder services, and 
g. tailored outreach and engagement for flu/COVID-19 vaccination and physical health checks. 


The College is working with the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM) to develop Standard Sets in Mental Health, five of which have now been published: 

There are two remaining Standard Sets due to be completed by December 2021 – one on Neurodevelopmental Disorders and one on Eating Disorders. 

Our ambition is to retire some of the process-based indicators included on this site with outcome-based indicators once they become available.  

While data relating to the prevalence of mental illness or the mental health care provided by public health, education and social care services is outside the scope of Mental Health Watch, more work is needed to ensure data can be linked across public agencies.