Factors Affecting Mental Health in Northamptonshire
Education and Employment
There is strong evidence to suggest that work is generally good for physical and mental health and wellbeing, taking into account the nature and quality of work and its social context, and that worklessness is associated with poorer physical and mental health. On average across the county long-term unemployment is significantly lower than the England average at 0.48% compared to 0.61% in England as a whole. Despite being lower, the figure still represents more than 2000 people in the county in long term unemployment. The two districts with the highest unemployment are Corby and Kettering. The gender split suggests higher unemployment rates in females in Corby and higher rates in males in Kettering.
Homelessness is associated with severe poverty and is a social determinant of mental health. In the county in 2013/14 there were more than 800 households classified as statutory homeless which was a rate of 2.8 per 1000 households, similar to the national average (2.3 per 1000) but higher than the regional average of 1.9 per 1000. Overall in 2014/15 there were 547 households classified as statutory homeless.
Men and women with mental health disorders, across all diagnoses, are more likely to have experienced domestic violence than the general population. The rate of domestic abuse incidents in the county, recorded by the police, is significantly lower than the national and regional average at 17.1 per 1000 population compared to 19.4 and 20.6 respectively. However, the rate has been increasing year on year, and there has been a significant increase each year.
Ethnicity is included as a risk factor because different ethnic groups have different rates and experiences of mental health problems. These differences are not well understood and may be explained by a number of factors, possibly including poverty and racism. They may also be because mainstream mental health services often fail to understand or provide services that are acceptable and accessible to some non-white British communities, or that some groups are reluctant to engage with mainstream services. The ethnicity profile in Figure 23 shows that at the time of the 2011 census, Northamptonshire had significantly higher proportion of the population who identified themselves as White, and significantly lower proportions that identified themselves as Mixed, Asian, Black or Other than England.
Lifestyle – Alcohol
Increasing risk drinking is defined as the consumption of between 22 and 50 units of alcohol per week for males, and between 15 and 35 units of alcohol per week for females. The modelled estimated
proportion of the population aged 16 years and over who report engaging in increasing or high risk drinking was similar to the national average at 22.8% compared 22.3%.
Alcohol consumption is a contributing factor to hospital admissions and deaths from a diverse range of conditions.
Lifestyle – Physical Activity
Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality.3 Regular physical activity is associated with improved mental health. In the county 58.6% of the adult population engage in recommended levels of physical activity which is similar to the national average and a significantly higher proportion of the population use outdoor space for health or exercise.