Overwhelming stress levels in Britain

According to a latest survey by the Mental Health Foundation, there is overwhelming stress that is being experienced by three quarters of Scots last year. The survey shows that a third of these people (over 35 percent) are suicidal due to the excessive stress that they are experiencing. In fact 16 percent of those surveyed have already caused self-harm in one way or another unable to cope with the stress. These results are released at the beginning of Mental Health Awareness week this week.

image Credit: Pathdoc / Shutterstock
image Credit: Pathdoc / Shutterstock

The study that was commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation was carried out by YouGov and it looked at 1,012 people. The report released is titled, “Stress - Are We Coping?” According to Lee Knifton, head of Mental Health Foundation Scotland, there are large numbers of adults in Scotland who are experiencing high levels of stress that is injuring their health. She said, “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.”

According to Ms Knifton, all employers need to be aware of the stress their employees are under and need to care for their employees mental health along with physical safety at workplace. She added that public sector workers also need to be protected from excessive stress. These are the people who “work hardest to look after us” she added.

The insurance firm Aviva also came up with a separate report stating that the main reasons for the stress experienced the people are due to financial worries, work and family pressures. This means that more people are struggling to cope once they reach a certain stage. Their Aviva Wellbeing report they looked at 4,205 Britons. They also noted that two thirds (67 percent) of those surveyed suffered from stress and around 64 percent suffered from clinical depression.

According Dr Subashini M, associate medical director at Aviva, mental health is equally important as physical health and many people “suffer in silence” and have nowhere to go for support and help. They have no one to discuss their problems with.

She explained that there are social taboos and mental health stereotypes and beliefs that does not allow people to come forth with their problems. There is a pattern of not acknowledging their problems or addressing them to tackle them she said. She noted that over half of the Britons are uncomfortable discussing their mental health issues. This is a “mindset” she said, that causes greater suffering and isolation and more harm.

According to a survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation too 74 percent of the Britons were severely affected by stress. Isabella Goldie, director of the Mental Health Foundation thinktank added that women remain the worst affected. She said that at some point last year, the survey shows that 81 percent women were left overwhelmed with stress compared to 67 percent of men during the same period. This report showed 32 percent with suicidal feelings due to excessive stress. Suicidal feelings were seen in 35 percent women compared to 29 percent men she added. Self harm was also noted among 18 percent women compared to 13 percent men (average 16 percent). She called stress a great public health challenge.

Another vulnerable population group were the youngsters. They noted that 83 percent of those aged between 18 and 24 years were found to be stressed and overwhelmed by it. Suicidal tendencies were seen in 39 percent young adults and self harm was seen in 29 percent.

According to the report’s conclusions, “For many of us there are times when exposure to stressors becomes too frequent or too intense to deal with. If the stress response is activated repeatedly, or if it persists over time without recovery periods, the physiological effects result in cumulative wear and tear on the body.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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