Mental Health Awareness Week 2004


For Mental Health Awareness Week 2004 we carried out a survey to find out how the UK population copes with low mood and what they do to beat it.

We carried out a survey to find out how the UK population copes with low mood and what they do to beat it. The results showed striking differences according to geographical location and gender.

Differences by location

How do people in the UK cope with low mood? If they're feeling lonely or down, what helps them to get through and feel better?

Respondents overwhelmingly answered that having 'someone to talk to' helped. People from London and the Midlands rated this most highly (83 per cent and 84 per cent respectively), while people from North West, Wales and Scotland were less likely to choose this option. Londoners and people from Northern Ireland were more likely to use 'exercise' as a coping mechanism (54 per cent and 37 per cent) compared with just 20 per cent of those questioned in the South East and South West.
People from the North West were those most likely to feel better if they spent 'time with family', whilst almost half of the respondents in Scotland and the North East reported 'spending time with a pet' as helpful (41 per cent), compared with just 16 per cent in the Midlands.
People from the North East were the participants who most frequently chose 'sex' as a coping mechanism. People from the Midlands were most likely to choose work (26 per cent compared with 16 per cent in London and 12 per cent in Scotland). People from the Midlands and Scotland were those most likely to have an alcoholic drink to cope with feeling low.

Differences by gender

Men and women also differed in their coping strategies. Women are more likely to choose 'someone to talk to' (83 per cent) than men (68 per cent). Women also report time with the family to be helpful (27 per cent over 19 per cent of men). Men more frequently chose sex (21 per cent versus 9 per cent of women) and receiving 'a hug' came in higher than any category (other than someone to talk to) among both sexes (45 per cent and 57 per cent among men and women respectively).


Overall, people in the UK rated exercise as one of the best coping strategies to use when feeling low, over alcohol. This supports previous research carried out on the benefits of exercise for mental well-being. Today, many GPs prescribe exercise for common mental illnesses such as depression.
Many different coping strategies exist and it is important to remember to look after your mental health as well as your physical health. Don't neglect your mental and emotional well-being, give it some thought once in a while, and seek help if you think you need it.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said:
"This research is light-hearted, but there is a very serious message behind it. The very commonness of mental illness is one of the most powerful messages we have when we are trying to fight stigma. But a 'them and us' attitude still exists. 1 in 4 people is likely to experience some kind of mental health problem in any one year. People experiencing mental health problems should be encouraged and not afraid to seek help."

The research is a reminder that everyone needs to look after their mental health, and possessing positive and helpful ways of coping with low mood is an important part of this.