Two thirds of British adults have experienced a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression, with less than a fifth experiencing high levels of positive mental health, research has found.
A new study by the Mental Health Foundation on the nation’s mental wellbeing revealed that the majority of Britons (65 per cent) have experienced a mental health problem.
More than a quarter (26 per cent) reported having had a panic attack and between a third and a half (42 per cent) said they had suffered from depression.
Young people emerged as being most likely to suffer, with 70 per cent of 18-34-year-olds saying they had experienced such problems, although middle-aged people (35 – 54) were close behind at 68 per cent. The figure stood at 58 per cent among those over the age of 55.
A suggestion for the age discrepancy was that people aged 55 and over emerged as being more likely to take steps that are known to be good for their mental health and wellbeing – including getting enough sleep, eating healthily and spending time with friends and family.
Income was also proven to impact levels of mental health, with the findings showing that nearly three quarters of people living in the lowest household income bracket (less than £1,200 per month) saying they had experienced a mental health problem, while the same applied for 59 per cent of those in the highest household income bracket (over £3,701 per month).
A substantial majority of those out of work (85 per cent), said that they had experienced a mental health problem, compared with 66 per cent in work and 53 per cent of retirees.
The study, launched to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week, has led the Mental Health Foundation to call 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.
Responding to the findings, Jenny Edwards CBE, the chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation said too few people in the UK enjoyed good mental health, and urged that efforts must be boosted to prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place.
“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,” said Ms Edwards.
“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 has also called for the introduction of a “100 per cent health” screen – incorporating mental health screening into existing health screening programmes, a community based resilience programme, and increased funding for mental health research with a focus on prevention.
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