Date Published: 8 May 2017

New Mental Health Foundation study suggests 65% Britons have experienced a mental health challenge at some time

The recent detailed study by the Mental Health Foundation (UK) highlights the extent to which mental and emotional challenges affect people in Britain throughout their lives.

This study of the mental health of people in the UK is being publicised now at the the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. It included questions to reveal the range and scale of people's experiences of mental health problems across their lifetime.

Issues considered included:

  • Whether or not the person has been feeling optimistic about the future
  • Whether or not the person has been feeling useful
  • Whether or not the person has been feeling relaxed
  • Whether or not the person has been dealing with problems well
  • Whether or not the person has been thinking clearly
  • Whether or not the person has been feeling close to other people
  • Whether or not the person has been able to make up my own mind about things
  • Which of a list of ('good' and 'bad;) strategies the person finds helpful for coping with everyday life
  • Which of a list of mental health related conditions or challenges the person thinks that he or she has experienced

Overall the results indicate that most (65%) of the people in the UK who participated in the research had experienced a mental health problem such as panic attacks or depression at some point in their lives.

According to the data collected, younger people seem to be affected by mental health issues to a greater extent than people aged over 55 years. Those between the ages of 18 and 54 were significantly more likely to say they have experienced a mental health problem (70% of 18-34 year olds and 68% of 35-54 year olds) compared to those over the age of 55 (58%).

The results of the study also suggested that:

  • Only 13% Britons report having high levels of positive mental health.
  • 26% Britons report having experienced had a panic attack.
  • 42% Britons report having experienced depression.
  • Women are more likely to say that they have experienced a mental health problem than men (70% of women compared to 60% of men).
  • 73% of people in the lowest household income bracket (less than £1,200 per month) report having experienced a mental health problem compared with 59% in the highest household income bracket (over £3,701 per month).
  • 85% of people who are unemployed report having experienced a mental health problem compared with 66% in work and 53% of retired people.
  • People aged 55 and over are more likely to take steps that are known to be good for their mental health and wellbeing, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthily and spending time with friends and family.

Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said:

" Our report lays out the sheer scale of the problem. This isn't an issue that just affects a minority. At some point in our life most of us are likely to experience a mental health problem. At the same time, too few of us are thriving with good mental health. We know that only a minority of people experiencing mental ill health access professional support, which means that we need to redouble our efforts to prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place."

_ This Mental Health Awareness Week we want to give people some of the tools to move from surviving to thriving. The barometer of any nation is the health and happiness of its people. We have made great strides in the health of our bodies, we now need to achieve the same for the health of our minds."

The Mental Health Foundation advocates the introduction of a "100% health" screen that would include "mental health screening" alongside existing health screening programmes, a community based resilience programme, and increased funding for mental health research with a focus on prevention. It has also asked for a Royal Commission to investigate the solutions to prevent mental ill health, with a focus on reducing risk, along with a report on the nation's mental health every year.

Source: Mental Health Foundation, UK

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