Results of the Mental Health Foundation's 2018 study
The study was an online poll undertaken by YouGov, and had a sample size of 4,619 respondents. This is the largest known study of stress levels in the UK.
In the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.
- 30% of older people reported never feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope in the past year, compared to 7% of young adults.
- 46% reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress.
- 29% reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking, and 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking.
- 51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed, and 61% reported feeling anxious.
- Of the people who said they had felt stress at some point in their lives, 16% had self harmed and 32% said they had had suicidal thoughts and feelings.
- 37% of adults who reported feeling stressed reported feeling lonely as a result.
Causes of stress
- 36% of all adults who reported stress in the previous year cited either their own or a friend/relative's long-term health condition as a factor. This rose to 44% of adults over 55.
- Of those who reported feeling stressed in the past year, 22% cited debt as a stressor.
- For people who reported high levels of stress, 12% said that feeling like they need to respond to messages instantly was a stressor.
- 49% of 18-24 year olds who have experienced high levels of stress, felt that comparing themselves to others was a source of stress, which was higher than in any of the older age groups.
- 36% of women who felt high levels of stress related this to their comfort with their appearance and body image, compared to 23% of men.
- Housing worries are a key source of stress for younger people (32% of 18-24 year olds cited it as a source of stress in the past year). This is less so for older people (22% for 45-54 year olds and just 7% for over 55s).
- Younger people have higher stress related to the pressure to succeed. 60% of 18-24 year olds and 41% of 25-34 year olds cited this, compared to 17% of 45-54s and 6% of over 55s).
- Fineberg, N., Haddad, P., Carpenter, L., Gannon, B., Sharpe, R., Young, A., Joyce, E., Rowe, J., Wellsted, D., Nutt, D. and Sahakian, B. (2013). The size, burden and cost of disorders of the brain in the UK. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(9), pp.761-770.
- Martin-Merino, E., Ruigomez, A., Wallander, M., Johansson, S. and GarciaRodriguez, L. (2009). Prevalence, incidence, morbidity and treatment patterns in a cohort of patients diagnosed with anxiety in UK primary care. Family Practice, 27(1), pp.9-16.
- McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016) Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital. Available at: http://content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748/apms-2014-full-rpt.pdf [Accessed 5 October 2016]
- Mental Health Foundation (n.d). Evidence & Research. Available at http://bemindful.co.uk/evidence-research/ [Accessed August 2015].