Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 23
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Ennis, Edel O’Neill, S. Murphy, S. and Bunting, B. 2016. Days out of role due to common physical and mental conditions: results from the Northern Ireland study of health and stress. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology,

    Galway, K. Gossrau-Breen, D. Mallon, S. Hughes, L. Rosato, M. Rondon-Sulbaran, J. and Leavey, G. 2016. Substance misuse in life and death in a 2-year cohort of suicides. The British Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 208, Issue. 3, p. 292.

    Goldstein, Risë B. Smith, Sharon M. Chou, S. Patricia Saha, Tulshi D. Jung, Jeesun Zhang, Haitao Pickering, Roger P. Ruan, W. June Huang, Boji and Grant, Bridget F. 2016. The epidemiology of DSM-5 posttraumatic stress disorder in the United States: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Vol. 51, Issue. 8, p. 1137.

    McKenna, Áine E. and Gillen, Allison M.C. 2016. Direct and indirect effects of maltreatment typologies on suicidality in a representative Northern Irish sample: Psychopathology only partially mediates the relationship. Journal of Psychiatric Research, Vol. 72, p. 82.

    Prior, Katrina Mills, Katherine Ross, Joanne and Teesson, Maree 2016. Substance use disorders comorbid with mood and anxiety disorders in the Australian general population. Drug and Alcohol Review,

    Raven, D. Jörg, F. Visser, E. Oldehinkel, A. J. and Schoevers, R. A. 2016. Time-to-treatment of mental disorders in a community sample of Dutch adolescents. A TRAILS study. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, p. 1.

    Turkington, Aidan Duffy, Michael Barrett, Suzanne McCaul, Rosalind Anderson, Richard Cooper, Stephen J. Rushe, Teresa and Mulholland, Ciaran 2016. Exposure to Political Violence in Northern Ireland and Outcome of First Episode Psychosis. Schizophrenia Bulletin, Vol. 42, Issue. 3, p. 626.

    Chapman, Cath Slade, Tim Hunt, Caroline and Teesson, Maree 2015. Delay to first treatment contact for alcohol use disorder. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Vol. 147, p. 116.

    Ferry, Finola R. Brady, Sharon E. Bunting, Brendan P. Murphy, Samuel D. Bolton, David and O'Neill, Siobhan M. 2015. The Economic Burden of PTSD in Northern Ireland. Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 28, Issue. 3, p. 191.

    Harley, M. E. Connor, D. Clarke, M. C. Kelleher, I. Coughlan, H. Lynch, F. Fitzpatrick, C. and Cannon, M. 2015. Prevalence of Mental Disorder among young adults in Ireland: a population based study. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, Vol. 32, Issue. 01, p. 79.

    Maguire, A. and O’Reilly, D. 2015. Does conurbation affect the risk of poor mental health? A population based record linkage study. Health & Place, Vol. 34, p. 126.

    McCauley, C. O. McKenna, H. P. Keeney, S. and McLaughlin, D. F. 2015. Concept analysis of recovery in mental illness in young adulthood. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Vol. 22, Issue. 8, p. 579.

    O'Connor, Rory C and O'Neill, Siobhan M 2015. Mental health and suicide risk in Northern Ireland: a legacy of the Troubles?. The Lancet Psychiatry, Vol. 2, Issue. 7, p. 582.

    Yehuda, Rachel Hoge, Charles W. McFarlane, Alexander C. Vermetten, Eric Lanius, Ruth A. Nievergelt, Caroline M. Hobfoll, Stevan E. Koenen, Karestan C. Neylan, Thomas C. and Hyman, Steven E. 2015. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, p. 15057.

    Ferry, Finola Bunting, Brendan Murphy, Samuel O’Neill, Siobhan Stein, Dan and Koenen, Karestan 2014. Traumatic events and their relative PTSD burden in Northern Ireland: a consideration of the impact of the ‘Troubles’. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Vol. 49, Issue. 3, p. 435.

    Gradus, Jaimie L. Bozi, Imre Antonsen, Sussie Svensson, Elisabeth Lash, Timothy L. Resick, Patricia A. and Hansen, Jens Georg 2014. Severe Stress and Adjustment Disorder Diagnoses in the Population of Denmark. Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 27, Issue. 3, p. 370.

    Griffin, E. Corcoran, P. Cassidy, L. O'Carroll, A. Perry, I. J. and Bonner, B. 2014. Characteristics of hospital-treated intentional drug overdose in Ireland and Northern Ireland. BMJ Open, Vol. 4, Issue. 7, p. e005557.

    McKenna, Áine E. Cassidy, Tony and Giles, Melanie 2014. Prospective evaluation of the pyramid plus psychosocial intervention for shy withdrawn children: an assessment of efficacy in 7- to 8-year-old school children in Northern Ireland. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Vol. 19, Issue. 1, p. 9.

    O׳Connor, Rory C. Rasmussen, Susan and Hawton, Keith 2014. Adolescent self-harm: A school-based study in Northern Ireland. Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 159, p. 46.

    Sun, Xin-yang Fan, Hui-min Bai, Bo Song, Hong-tao Tao, Feng-yan Song, Zi-xiang Zhang, Guang-ya Shi, Jie and Zhang, Li-yi 2014. Psychosomatic Conditions of the Children and Adolescents Exposed to 5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Vol. 21, Issue. 4, p. 730.


Lifetime prevalence of mental health disorders and delay in treatment following initial onset: evidence from the Northern Ireland Study of Health and Stress

  • B. P. Bunting (a1), S. D. Murphy (a1), S. M. O'Neill (a1) and F. R. Ferry (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 25 November 2011

The current study provides the first epidemiological estimates of lifetime mental disorders across NI based on DSM-IV criteria. Risk factors, delays in treatment and the experience of conflict are also examined.


Nationally representative face-to-face household survey of 4340 individuals aged ⩾18 years in NI using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Analyses were implemented using SAS and STATA software.


Lifetime prevalence of any disorder was 39.1% while projected lifetime risk was 48.6%. Individuals who experienced conflict were more likely to have had an anxiety, mood or impulse-control disorder. Treatment delays were substantial for anxiety and substance disorders.


Results from this study show that mental disorders are highly prevalent in Northern Ireland. The elevated rates of post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to other countries and the association of living ‘in a region of terror’ disorders suggests that civil conflict has had an additional impact on mental health. Given substantial delays in treatment, further research is required to investigate the factors associated with failure and delay in treatment seeking.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Professor B. P. Bunting, Psychology Research Institute, University of Ulster, Magee Campus, Northland Road, Londonderry BT48 7JL, UK. (Email:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

AJ Anthony , M Folstein , AJ Romanoski , MR Vonkorff , GR Nestadt , R Chahal , A Merchant , CH Brown , S Shapiro , M Kramer , EM Gruenberg (1985). Comparison of the lay Diagnostic Interview Schedule and a standardized psychiatric diagnosis – experience in Eastern Baltimore. Archives of General Psychiatry 42, 667675.

G Borges , PS Wang , ME Medina-Mora , C Lara , WT Chiu (2007). Delay of first treatment of mental and substance use disorders in Mexico. American Journal Public Health 97, 16381643.

MN Brown , KL Lapane , AF Luisi (2002). The management of depression in older nursing home residents. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 50, 6976.

R Bruffaerts , A Bonnewyn , K Demyttenaere (2007). Delays in seeking treatment for mental disorders in the Belgian general population. Social Psychiatry Psychiatric Epidemiology 42, 937944.

JA Cunningham , LC Sobell , MB Sobell , S Agrawal , T Toneatto (1993). Barriers to treatment: why alcohol and drug abusers delay or never seek treatment. Addictive Behaviors 18, 347353.

J Gunn , A Maden , M Swinton (1991). Treatment needs of prisoners with psychiatric disorders. British Medical Journal 303, 338341.

SS Halli , KV Rao (1992). Advanced Techniques of Population Analysis. Plenum: New York.

RC Kessler , P Berglund , WT Chiu , O Demler , S Heeringa , E Hiripi , R Jin , BE Pennell , EE Walters , A Zaslavsky , H Zheng (2004). The US national comorbidity survey replication (NCS-R): design and field procedures. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research 13, 6992.

RC Kessler , P Berglund , O Demler , R Jin , EE Walters (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Archives of General Psychiatry 62, 593602.

HR Lamb , LE Weinberger (1998). Persons with severe mental illness in jails and prisons: a review. Psychiatric Services 49, 483492.

P McConnell , P Bebbington , R McClelland , K Gillespie , S Houghton (2002). Prevalence of psychiatric disorder and the need for psychiatric care in Northern Ireland: population study in the district of Derry. British Journal of Psychiatry 181, 214219.

M Olfson , RC Kessler , PA Berglund , E Lin (1998). Psychiatric disorder onset and first treatment contact in the United States and Ontario. American Journal of Psychiatry 155, 14151422.

D O'Reilly , M Stevenson (2003). Mental health in Northern Ireland: have the ‘troubles’ made it worse? Journal Epidemiology Community Health 57, 488492.

LN Robins , J Wing , HU Wittchen , JE Helzer , TF Babor , J Burke , A Farmer , A Jablenski , R Pickens , DA Regier , N Sartorius , LH Towle (1988). The Composite International Diagnostic Interview: an epidemiologic instrument suitable for use in conjunction with different diagnostic systems and in different cultures. Archives of General Psychiatry 45, 10691077.

J Sareen , A Jagdeo , BJ Cox , M ten-Have , IP Clara , S-L Belik , R de Graaf , MB Stein (2007). Perceived barriers toward mental health service utilization: a comparison of the United States, Ontario and the Netherlands. Psychiatric Services 58, 357364.

PS Wang , PA Berglund , M Olfson , RC Kessler (2004). Delays in initial treatment contact after first onset of a mental disorder. Health Services Research 39, 393415.

PS Wang , PA Berglund , M Olfson , HA Pincus , KB Wells , RC Kessler (2005). Failure and delay in initial treatment contact after first onset of mental disorders in the national comorbidity replication survey. Archives of General Psychiatry 62, 603613.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *