The UK is in the middle of a mental health crisis

Attest data shows less than half of Brits feel they have good mental health. We explore the conditions people are struggling with and demographics suffering the most.

Changing attitudes to mental health mean we’re not as ashamed to talk about what’s going on in our brains. While this is great for society, the true scale of the mental health problem in the UK is starting to become apparent. You don’t have to be an expert in market research for healthcare to sense something new in the air.

Attest ran a survey of 1,000 working age people around the theme of health and wellbeing and the results were alarming. Less than half of Brits feel they have good mental health.

UK mental health statistics 2020

The issue of poor mental health is especially visible among young people. Generation Z and millennials (the 18-40 year old demographic) are almost three times more likely to describe their general mental health as “very bad” than their older counterparts (7.2% versus 2.6%).

Interestingly, this breakdown in mental health is not reflected in the United States. When we ran a similar survey in the US, nearly 67% of people said their general mental health was good – this means they’re nearly 39% more likely to rate their mental health positively than Brits. So why is the UK suffering so much, and what conditions are people struggling with?

UK Health & Wellbeing Report 2020

How healthy do Brits feel? Insights into the mental and physical health of 1,000 UK consumers

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We are a depressed nation

Our data shows that depression is rife in the UK. It’s the top listed mental health condition, with more than 48% of people admitting that they are currently suffering from it or have suffered from it in the past. It’s a condition that affects young and old, men and women universally.   

Anxiety and panic attacks are also common; 43% of Brits have experienced these conditions or still do. Younger people are nearly 17% more likely to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks than older people (46.3% versus 39.6%). But there’s an even greater tendency for women to be affected by these conditions; nearly 53% say they’ve experienced anxiety and/or panic attacks – that’s more than half the female population. Meanwhile, 33% of men are also affected. 

UK mental health depression anxiety statistics 2020

Brits are stressed out

A clue to our poor mental health might lie in our stress levels. Our data indicates that people feel under a significant amount of stress. We asked them to describe their general stress levels and nearly 55% described them as “high” or “very high”.

The worst affected are younger Brits – they’re 44% more likely to say they’re feeling stressed than their older counterparts. Nearly 65% of people aged 18-40 report being stressed versus nearly 45% of older people.

Women are more likely to be feeling the strain than men; 60.2% have “high” or “very high” stress levels versus 49.1% of men, perhaps reflecting the demands on women to juggle work and motherhood?

UK mental health statistics stress 2020

The crisis is real

This is a problem that’s too big to ignore. More than 55% of Brits say they want to improve their mental health, rising to 60.4% of 18-40 year olds. Life in modern Britain is making people stressed, depressed and anxious. So what can be done?

It’s an interesting question for brands. How can they improve consumers’ lives and help to ease the burden? How can they bring people together and spread joy? Looking inwards, how can companies better support their own employees and understand the difficulties individuals might be experiencing? 

But it’s not just a question for companies, we as individuals should ask ourselves how we can look after our friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. More than five in ten people think their mental health could be better, so even if you’re not suffering yourself, it’s likely someone you care about is. 

Want to delve deeper into the nation’s collective psyche?  Sign up to our on-demand platform now

Bel Booker

Senior Content Writer 

Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 125 million global consumers. She also likes cake.

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