Survey of Britain’s mental health reveals picture of an anxious nation

More than 23 million people in Great Britain have experienced anxiety or depression, according to new research by mental health, drug and alcohol charity Addaction.

In a YouGov poll of more than 2,000 British adults, 45 per cent said they have personal experience of anxiety or depression, 10 per cent (5 million people) have experience of an alcohol problem, and 10 per cent have self-harmed. Eight per cent (4 million people) have experience of an eating disorder and four per cent (2 million people) have experience of an illegal drug problem.

Mike Dixon, CEO of Addaction said: “Although they can be hard to talk about, these are everyday issues affecting tens of millions of people in the UK. We know that people are struggling and as a society we need to be bolder in how we respond. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Reach out for help.”

Women and young people

The survey reveals significant differences between the experiences of women and men: 13 per cent of women have personal experience of self-harm compared with six per cent of men. More than four times as many women (13 per cent) have experience of an eating disorder as men (three per cent). Men are twice as likely (14 per cent) as women (seven per cent) to have experience of an alcohol problem.

Women are more than twice as likely (nine per cent) as men (four per cent) to have a partner with experience of an alcohol problem. Five per cent of women have a partner with personal experience of drug problems compared with two per cent of men. Women are nearly twice as likely (13 per cent) than men (seven per cent) to have a close friend with an eating disorder.

The survey also reflects generational differences around issues like self-harm. One in five 18-34 year olds (21%) have personal experience of self-harm, compared with just one in ten (10%) 35-54 year olds. Just one in three (33%) 18-24 year olds don’t know someone with experience of self-harm.

Problems in society

Asked about problems in British society, 86 per cent said mental health is a serious problem (rising to 91 per cent among women). Asked about substances, 86 think drug dependence is a serious problem and 83% think alcohol dependence is a serious problem.

Asked about the level of investment for drug and alcohol treatment, 44 per cent said we’re not spending enough, 22 per cent said we invest the right amount, and ten per cent said we spend too much. Asked who should pay for treatment, 78 per cent said it should be free and state funded.

Media contact

Mark Byrne | Head of Media | Addaction

M: 079 6628 7949 | E: mark.byrne@addaction.org.uk

About this survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2038 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th September - 1st October 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Population calculations carried out by Addaction, based on 2017 GB 18+ population estimates from ONS (50,644,094).