Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (16-22 May), research from Aviva has found large numbers of UK adults who experience mental health issues are not seeking help, with many too embarrassed to do so. Stress (33%), anxiety (29%) and depression (23%) are the most common mental health conditions experienced in the past year. Of those who experienced stress, 55% did not seek support, while 48% did not seek help for anxiety. More people are taking action on depression, but around three in ten (29%) of those suffering with this in the last year still did not ask for support. In total, 24% or 12 million adults in the UK suffered from stress, anxiety or depression in the past year and did not seek help.
The stigma associated with having a mental health problem could be preventing people from seeking help: almost a third (32%) of UK adults agree they would be too embarrassed to tell people if they had a mental health issue. This rises to 42% of those who have experienced mental health problems before.
Men are less likely than women to seek help for anxiety and depression, whereas men are more likely than women to seek help for stress (57% women vs. 52% men).
Of those who have personally experienced a mental health condition, 36% have now successfully recovered and a similar proportion (35%) say their condition is being managed effectively. However, 17% do not feel they are getting the right treatment.
Money worries are cited as the main cause for those who suffer from depression (28%) or anxiety (27%). Financial fears are also keeping people awake at night, with 26% saying this is the main cause of their insomnia.
While concerns over money are also a significant cause of stress (21%), work pressures are the most common cause, cited by over a third (34%). Unsurprisingly, juggling a work/life balance also plays a major role in causing stress (20%).
Aside from money worries, relationship difficulties (25%) and being unhappy with body image (21%) are noted as contributing factors to depression. Perhaps due to being particularly vulnerable to pressure about their appearance, younger age groups are most likely to agree their negative body image is contributing to them being depressed, shooting up to 37% of 18-24s.
Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva UK Health says:
“You wouldn’t be embarrassed to visit a doctor or ask for help with a broken leg, and the same should apply to mental health problems: but there is still a stigma around this kind of illness. Many people are not seeking help and are having to battle on in silence. Not getting appropriate support will make it difficult for many sufferers to cope, and is likely to make their condition worse.
Although you can’t ‘see’ the problem, it’s important to realise mental health problems are often just as damaging as physical illnesses. Through initiatives like Mental Health Awareness Week, we need to increase understanding and awareness of mental health problems so those who experience them don’t have to suffer alone.”
Full press release on www.aviva.co.uk