Uncertain Times: Anxiety in the UK and how to tackle it

New research from the Mental Health Foundation reveals anxiety is gripping the UK as many people suffer in silence and struggle to cope.

Mental Health Foundation logo with green ribbon;

On the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week (15 to 21 May 2023), the Mental Health Foundation is raising the alarm about the impact of anxiety across the UK as they publish their new report, Uncertain Times: Anxiety in the UK and how to tackle itThe paper outlines the prevalence of anxiety across the population, the key drivers in the wake of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis and recommendations for governments to reduce anxiety levels and support good mental health. Among the recommendations is a call for the development and delivery of mental health strategies in each UK nation that include a focus on prevention and responsibilities across all government departments.

Polling of 6000 UK adults found that nearly three-quarters of the population (73%) had felt anxious at least sometimes in the previous two weeks, while more than a quarter (26%) of those with feelings of anxiety felt anxious to the extent that it stopped them from doing what they’d like or need to do. One in five people (20%) felt anxious most or all of the time.

Despite anxiety being so common, stigma and shame play a part in how people deal with anxiety, with almost half (45%) of UK adults with feelings of anxiety keep it a secret. This suggests that although there has been progress in discussing mental health more openly in recent years, significant numbers of people are still not comfortable talking about their own experiences.

The extent of the problem is compounded by one in three people (30%) with feelings of anxiety saying they are not coping well with those feelings.

The results of the polling make it clear that financial stress is giving rise to anxiety across the UK as existing support for people who are struggling does not go far enough. The most commonly reported cause of anxiety in the past two weeks was being able to afford to pay bills, reported by 32% of respondents, while 40% of respondents said that financial security would help prevent anxiety.

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