Community mental health survey 2023

Page last updated: 18 April 2024

This survey looks at the experiences of people who use community mental health services.

The 2023 community mental health survey received feedback from 14,770 people who received treatment for a mental health condition between 1 April and 31 May 2023. For the first time, participants of the 2023 survey were offered the choice of responding online or via a paper-based questionnaire.

With support from key stakeholders, we took the opportunity to review and update the methodology, eligibility and questions used in the survey. This included lowering the eligibility age to now include 16 and 17-year-olds. As a result of the changes, it is not possible to compare this year's results with data collected in previous years.

What we found

This report shows that people’s experiences of NHS mental health services provided in the community are poor. Most notably, quality of care, crisis care, support while waiting, planning and involvement in care, and support with other areas of life.

Positive results

There are few areas where most people reported good experiences.

Medication review

  • Seventy-seven per cent said their NHS mental health team asked how they were getting on with their medications in the last 12 months.
  • When medication was discussed, 97% had either ‘definitely’ or ‘to some extent', discussed the purpose of the medication, and 93% had some discussion around its benefits.

Privacy of care settings

  • Seventy-four per cent said they definitely had enough privacy to talk comfortably during the delivery of NHS talking therapies.

Key areas for improvement

Quality of Care

  • Less than half of all respondents (39%) were ‘definitely’ given the help they needed the last time they saw someone from mental health services.
  • Half of all respondents (50%) were ‘definitely’ given enough time to discuss their needs and treatment.

Crisis care

  • One in 5 people (22%) would not know who to contact out of hours if they were in a mental health crisis.
  • Over a quarter of all respondents (26%) did not get the help they needed when they did make contact.

Support while waiting

  • While waiting between their assessment with the NHS mental health team and their first appointment for treatment, 42% of people did not receive support for their mental health.
  • Forty-four per cent reported that their mental health deteriorated while they waited for their first appointment.

Planning and involvement in care

  • Over a third (37%) reported that they did not have a care plan.
  • Forty-four per cent had not had their care reviewed in the last 12 months.
  • More than half (59%) were not asked if they required support to access their care.

Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)

Results for people using CAMHS indicated low levels of satisfaction across multiple areas of care.

  • Thirty-three per cent did not feel in control of their care.
  • Forty per cent said they did not have a care plan and 47% have not had a review meeting in the last 12 months.
  • Twenty-seven per cent had not made decisions about their care and treatment with their mental health team.

Older people’s mental health services (OPMHS)

Survey respondents using OPMHS generally reported positive experiences of interacting with their mental health team.

  • Eighty-five per cent reported they were always treated with care and compassion and 86% were always treated with dignity and respect.

How experience varies for different groups of people

Respondents with a disability reported worse than average experiences for 14 of the 20 questions analysed. These questions covered areas of care such as being treated with care and compassion, being given the help they needed from services, and being supported to make decisions about their care and treatment.

Other groups more likely to report worse experiences across multiple questions were people aged 16-35, people with autism or autism spectrum condition, and people who access services over the telephone.

Results for NHS trusts

A-Z list of results by NHS trust

Each trust has been provided with a benchmark report, which provides:

  • detail of the survey methodology
  • headline results
  • the trust score for each evaluative question
  • banding for how a trust score compares with all other trusts.

Community mental health survey 2023: Benchmark reports


Open data

Supporting information

How will results be used?

We will use the results from the survey to build an understanding of the risk and quality of services and those who organise care across an area. Where survey findings provide evidence of a change to the level of risk or quality in a service, provider or system, we use the results alongside other sources of people’s experience data to inform targeted assessment activities.

Other organisations

NHS trusts

Trusts, and those who commission services, use the results to identify and make the changes they need to improve the experience of people who use their services.

NHS England and the Department for Health and Social Care

Information collected nationally in a consistent way is essential to support public and Parliamentary accountability. The results are used by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care for performance assessment, improvement and regulatory purposes.