Frequently asked questions

The Catalogue does not provide access to data. Each study in the Catalogue has data access policies and procedures. Some studies have their data available to download from their study site or the UK Data Service. To learn more about accessing a study’s data, head to the ‘Data Access’ section of their study page.

It is important to remember that the studies you see on the Catalogue may be in the process of collecting data and therefore may not be ready to share yet. We keep the Catalogue as up to date as possible by including the mental health measures used at the most recent sweeps, including sweeps where the data has not yet been released.

If your initial search doesn’t get any results – don’t worry! We have some top tips to find exactly what you are looking for.

First, it is good to try changing the terminology you use in your search or try using synonyms, especially if you are looking for a topic that may be less commonly measured. For example, if you are looking for binge eating disorder, it is better to search for the disorder itself, rather than specific symptoms, such as ‘vomiting’ or ‘over-eating’. Using different terminology will improve your search.

To find the most accurate terminology, we recommend checking the list of mental health topics covered by the Catalogue. These are located under the ‘mental health and wellbeing topics’ page. It is a good idea to check here if the disorder you are looking for is covered in the Catalogue before you search for it.

The search engine will only allow you to look for mental health and wellbeing topics, instruments, or studies. If you are looking for related topics, you can use the filters.

If you need help, or still can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us at

To the included on the Catalogue, studies need to:

  • Have collected/plan to collect data at multiple time points
  • Include measures of mental health and/or wellbeing
  • Have at least 200 participants at the first data point
  • Be ongoing

You can learn more about the types of studies included on the Catalogue on the ‘Background’ and ‘How we work’ pages.

We are always looking for new studies to add to the Catalogue. If you think you know a study that meets our criteria, but is not listed, please get in touch! Email us at

To all measures on the Catalogue, there are strengths and limitations. Because of this, and the wide range of mental health topics covered, it is best for you as a researcher to decide which ones will fit the needs and aims of your project best.

The Catalogue provides detail on standard and non-standard (bespoke) measures, so there are many options to consider for research. Both standard instruments, such as the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and non-standard measures can be searched for on the Catalogue. You can find further details on the study pages and on the study timelines.

To further help you, there is a ‘commonly used measures’ page on the Catalogue. This page summarises the most widely used standard instruments featured on the Catalogue. We encourage using the reference papers linked under each study to find out more.

The Catalogue serves as a resource to give a wide view of the data already collected, maintaining a focus on mental health and wellbeing. Within this context, the Catalogue includes measures of:

  • Indicators of mental health problems, including symptoms, behaviours, and reports of diagnoses
  • Impairment because of mental health problems
  • Treatment, service use and help-seeking behaviour
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Measures of Personality and temperament

To cover all bases, the Catalogue includes standard and non-standard measures, but these must be specific to mental health and wellbeing only. Furthermore, maintaining this focus, the Catalogue does not include measures of neurocognitive disorders, cognition, or risk factors.

However, while we don’t include detailed information about biological or social risk factors of mental health measured in studies, we note these when reviewing the studies. This information can be found using the ‘related measures’ filter on the search page, and includes topics such as loneliness and social isolation, migration and immigration, and sleep problems.

Criteria for study inclusion in the Catalogue does not just depend on measures of mental health. Head to the ‘Background’ and ‘How we work’ pages to find out how we decide which longitudinal studies to include

Most of the measures on the Catalogue are quantitative, but a small number of studies do include qualitative measures, which we list on the Catalogue. These are easily identifiable.

You can use the filters under ‘complementary data’ to identify studies with qualitative and/or observational data, or use the search feature for ‘qualitative measures’. The Catalogue will not show you exactly what qualitative information has been collected, but you can easily find out more by searching for study papers or using the study websites.

If you need to find studies that include examples of qualitative measures in sweeps, you can use the search engine to find these. Just search ‘qualitative measures’.

In a nutshell:

  • The Health Data Research (HDR) UK Innovation Gateway is the UK’s National Institute for Health Data Science
  • HDR UK brings together different types of health data in one place, and is not limited to mental health
  • The Innovation Gateway does not provide access to data, but facilitates data discovery
  • The Gateway also signposts resources such as publications or research projects
  • The Catalogue links to HDR UK to complement information for researchers
  • Some study pages have the HDR Innovation Gateway logo, clicking on this will take you to the study page on the Gateway

Head to the Innovation Gateway to find out more!

DATAMIND is a datahub developed by HDR UK, which works to make the best use of mental health data and enable coordinated research. It is a platform allowing researchers and others to find and use many different types of mental health data.

Because DATAMIND is part of HDR UK, this hub is available through the HDR Gateway or at It aims to bring together many different sources of data but is specific to mental health.

The Catalogue is a part of this HDR hub. Therefore, the Catalogue and DATAMIND are part of a wider research group that aims to support future mental health research. The two share similar values about the importance of making mental health data discoverable and encouraging the uptake of this data to improve our understanding of mental health.

Measures of Dementia are not included in the Catalogue. There is a maintained focus on mental health and wellbeing, so measures focusing on neurocognitive disorders, learning difficulties and cognition (such as intelligence, memory) are not detailed.

If you are interested in Dementia, the Dementias Platform UK provides a great space to learn more about this disorder. It has lots of information on neurocognitive data in over 35 British cohorts.

Yes, the Catalogue includes studies using clinical cohorts like AESOP-10 and LOGIC. The Catalogue also covers studies with a focus on vulnerable/marginalised groups.

Furthermore, the Catalogue contains a wide variety of studies and sample types, as the UK is home to many kinds of longitudinal studies and cohorts.

To find clinical cohorts on the Catalogue, and any other sample types you need, you can use the filter ‘sample characteristics’, where you will find a full list of the types of cohorts the Catalogue covers. Also, to find different study designs, you can use the “study design” filter.

The Catalogue aims to cover UK based studies, due to the large number of valuable and rich longitudinal research the UK is home to. These studies are prioritised in the Catalogue and provide a large national picture.

The Catalogue, however, does include some studies that cover cohorts from across Europe, as long as they have a UK-based cohort. These include the European social survey, the European working conditions survey, and IMAGEN. Look for these studies using the search engine on the Catalogue.

However, the Catalogue team have recently received a grant to develop a new Platform for international datasets, based on the work in their Landscaping International Longitudinal Datasets project. More information can be found here.

We think the Catalogue is unique because:

  • The Catalogue provides detailed information about the mental health measures used in longitudinal datasets at the item level, including information on the response scale, focus and informant.
  • The Catalogue highlights the availability of longitudinal mental health and wellbeing data, allowing for comparisons between studies and measures used
  • It focuses on UK longitudinal research, which provides a rich source of data
  • The Catalogue is user-friendly, with a simple search engine for studies, specific instruments, and disorders. There are also filters helping to narrow down searches
  • Measures are on a searchable timeline within the study pages, for easy access to data from different time points

To reference the Catalogue, please use:

Catalogue of Mental Health Measures (2024). Available at

Longitudinal research means that data is repeatedly collected over a time frame. There are multiple designs or types of longitudinal studies, such as:

  • Cohort studies – Following the same group of people that share a characteristic over a given period. A cohort could be a group born around the same time, share a diagnosis, or have experienced the same life event. For example, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
  • Household panel surveys – Data is collected repeatedly from the same household, not necessarily the same people. An example of this study design is Understanding Society.
  • Repeated cross-sectional studies – These studies collect data from different samples at each time point. This new recruitment at each wave ensures a representative sample of the population. Studies with this design cannot be used to look at individuals over time but can look at changes in populations. The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) is an example of this design.
  • Accelerated cohort studies – Accelerated cohort studies follow the same design as cohort studies but recruit multiple cohorts of different ages at the start of the study. An example of this study design is the West of Scotland
  • Linked cohort studies – A linked cohort is created when data is collected from multiple sources of routinely collected data, such as medical records or education records. This type of cohort is used in SEP-MD.

For more detail, see our longitudinal research & measuring change over time page!

A cohort with linked data combines primary and secondary data. For example, Born in Bradford links education records, healthcare, and environmental data to their cohort information. In contrast, a linked cohort uses secondary data, such as healthcare or education records, to create a dataset. An example of this is the SEP-MD study. In a data linkage study, the cohort is called a ‘linked cohort’.

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