Mental Health Foundation releases results of UK-wide survey on stress

A Mental Health Foundation study has found that 74% of adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. The percentage was even higher among women and those between 18-24 years old.

The study, released for Mental Health Awareness Week, which starts today, is believed to be the largest and most comprehensive stress survey ever carried out across the UK with 4,619 people surveyed. Mental Health Foundation Director Isabella Goldie said: “Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns."

“Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us”, Isabella said.

The study showed that the feelings of stress experienced over the past year are so severe that 32% of people said they are experiencing suicidal feelings as a result of stress and 16% of adults said they had self-harmed as a result of stress.

“These aren’t small experiences of stress, these are really significant events in our lives and too many of us are experiencing them too often,” Mark Rowland, Mental Health Foundation’s Director of Fundraising and Communications said in an exclusive interview with Happiful.

Mark Rowland also called for the government to offer all public sector workers wellbeing days so that they can take a break to prevent problems from escalating. "These are the people that care for us and we need to show that we take their mental health seriously", he said.

Counsellor Peter Klein, who is a member of the Counselling Directory, says that this severe type of stress can cause severe long term health effects as it is very unnatural to experience overwhelming levels of distress.

"Healthy levels of stress can help people become more alert and attentive. Overwhelming and unhelpful types of stress can however make people constantly worry and feel like they can't cope. Unhelpful stress levels often relate to work, relationship or academic pressures that individuals see as overwhelming. What makes things worse is that many coping responses can actually increase stress levels," Peter said.

"People should consider seeking help if they find it difficult to relax, get excessively preoccupied with a problem or start noticing that they are avoiding daily challenges because of their stress levels" Peter added.

The Mental Health Foundation commissioned the study from YouGov and is believed to be the largest and most comprehensive stress survey ever carried out across the UK with 4,619 surveyed. The study is part of a larger report published today called Stress - Are We Coping? Further findings from the survey will be released through the week.


If you are worried about stress, and need to talk to somebody in a safe and confidential environment, visit Counselling Directory to find support.

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