Stressed nation: 74% of UK 'overwhelmed or unable to cope' at some point in the past year

74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

  • 81% of women said this compared to 67 percent of men.
  • 83% of 18-24 year-olds said this compared to 65 percent of people aged 55 and over.

32% of adults said they had experienced suicidal feelings as a result of stress

  • 35% of women said this compared to 29 percent of men.
  • 39% of 18-24 year-olds said this compared to 25 percent of adults aged 55 and over.

16% of adults said they had self-harmed as a result of stress.

  • 18% of women said this compared to 13 percent of men.
  • 29% of 18-24 year-olds said this compared to 6 percent of adults aged 55 and over.

A UK-wide stress survey has found that almost three quarters of adults (74%) have at some point over the past year felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

The survey – commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation – also found that almost a third of people (32%) had experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of stress.

Meanwhile one sixth of people (16%) said they had self-harmed as a result of feelings of stress.

The study was commissioned from YouGov to launch Mental Health Awareness Week which has been run by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001. The study is believed to be the largest and most comprehensive stress survey ever carried out across the UK with 4,619 people surveyed.

The study is included in a new report by the Mental Health Foundation published today, Stress: are we coping?

Further findings from the survey on the impact of stress on young people will be released later in the week. (Wednesday 16th May)

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.

"Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems.

"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.

"We also need to change at a societal level. This includes ensuring that employers treat stress and mental health problems as seriously as physical safety.

"We are also asking for well-being days to be provided to public sector workers as part of reducing the pressure on those who work hardest to look after us."

UK survey: Total sample size was 4619 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th March - 20th April 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). (YouGov)

For interviews and further information please contact Cal Strode on 0207 803 1110 or press@mentalhealth.org.uk.

In addition

  • The week will be marked by the lighting -up in green of a number of public buildings including Edinburgh Castle, the Bank of England, the National Theatre and many others (green is the colour of international mental health awareness).
  • The Mental Health Foundation is running the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival – the world’s biggest mental health arts festival – across the period.
  • High-profile celebrities and public figures will be wearing green ribbon pin badges in support of mental health awareness.
  • The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive.