According to a study, more than two-thirds of Britons – 68% – have experienced a mental health problem in the past five years. Of these, the most common were anxiety (48%), stress (47%) and depression (38%).
Meanwhile, one in 20 people in the UK have suffered from an eating disorder in the last five years. The statistics come from a YouGov poll commissioned by the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy (BACP), based in Lutterworth.
On the positive side, the survey found that the vast majority – 84% – of the UK population think it is more socially acceptable now to discuss mental health issues than it was five years ago. The findings come from a study of more than 5,000 UK adults conducted by the BACP, which describes itself as the UK’s leading professional body for the counseling professions.
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The survey found that almost three-quarters – 71% – of the public believe the Covid-19 pandemic has raised awareness of mental health issues in the UK, helping to make discussions about mental health more socially acceptable. Although the pandemic had a negative effect, there is evidence that people are recovering now that the severity of illnesses caused by the virus has diminished with newer strains.
The proportion of Britons who rate their mental health as ‘good’ overall, however, has risen from 52% last year to 55% now, suggesting that overall mental health in the UK could return to levels of before the pandemic. Before the coronavirus crisis, in February 2020, 58% said their mental health was good.
The audience was asked how different issues are currently negatively impacting their mental health. The researchers asked people about some of the biggest issues of the time, such as the cost of living crisis, Brexit and its aftermath, climate change and the availability of help for those in need.
Cost of living crisis
- 53% of respondents say their mental health is negatively affected by the current cost of living crisis. And 40% of the public feel anxious about paying their bills and a fifth need to cut back on activities that contribute to their mental health, such as gym memberships or art lessons.
- 36% of Britons say Brexit has had a large or moderate negative impact on their mental health. Londoners are the most affected, with almost half – 44% – saying Brexit has had a negative impact on their mental health. Younger generations are significantly more affected than older generations – 42% of 25-34 year olds compared to 28% of over 65 year olds.
- 38% of respondents say that climate change is negatively affecting their mental health to some degree. Younger generations are much more likely to say this, with 46% of 16-24 year olds saying the issue has a negative impact on their mental health, compared to just 29% of those aged 65+.
Seeking Mental Health Support
- 64% felt more comfortable talking to a GP and 62% to a counselor about their mental health issues. Only 53% were comfortable talking to friends and only 50% to family. Only 32% of one-third of employees feel comfortable talking to their manager about their mental health at work and only 28% of employees feel comfortable talking to co-workers.
Fiona Ballantine Dykes, Deputy Chief Executive of BACP, says: “Our research shows that there are significant events negatively impacting the mental health of the UK population, even as we emerge from the Covid pandemic whose contribution to poor mental health is well known. People face change and uncertainty.
“They feel powerless to be able to influence these issues and vulnerable to the consequences of these changes. On a more positive note, it is more socially acceptable to discuss mental health issues and there are many places where people feel at home. comfortable talking about their concerns, with counseling and psychotherapy high on this list.
“Mental health has become more normal in society. And we believe that more and more people are realizing that talking to a trained, qualified and licensed therapist can transform their everyday mental health and well-being.”