It is no secret that Britain is amidst a mental health crisis. Over the last few years, as the pandemic took its multiple twists and turns, the number of people living with and seeking help for mental health problems soared, with a record number of 4.3m mental health referrals in 2021.
More than a year on and the crisis shows no signs of abating. Far from it. As millions of us face a renewed round of difficulty and distress due to eye-watering inflation, it appears that significant proportions of the country are finding themselves dealing with mental health conditions. New data, collected by the Global Web Index and analysed by AudienceNet based on a sample of over 10,500 brits between the ages of 16 and 64, found that one fifth of us have a mental health condition, with an additional 11% living with someone that does. Not only this, but nearly four in ten (38%) also regarded themselves as someone prone to anxiety.
Women and young people are most likely to be affected. 23% of women are presently living with a mental health condition compared to 17% of men and 26% of 16–24-year-olds contrast with only 12% of 55–64-year-olds.
ANDD X Society – Britains mental health crisisGender and age are not alone in shaping the state of play, however. Mental health conditions are also affecting those with low household incomes most significantly. Just under a third (29%) of those with a low-income report having mental health conditions, compared to 19% with a medium income and 13% with a high income. The same goes for anxiety. Just under half (45%) of those with a low income and 38% of those with a medium income regard themselves as prone to anxiety, as compared to 29% with high income and 19% within the highest economic bracket.
Of course, this is utterly unsurprisingly. Fuel poverty, food insecurity and mounting debt are not conducive to stable mental health and happiness, and precarity risks the death of both hope and joy. Furthermore, as winter rolls around and financial insecurity deepens, it is likely that the proportion dealing with mental health difficulties with grow and grow.
For already overburdened mental health services, still reeling from increased pressure during the pandemic, this stark situation offers – in the words of Dr Adrian James, Head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – an “unprecedented challenge” for which a solution has yet to be provided. In other words, then, it is out of the frying pan and into the fire.
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