Love, work, appearance: The mental burdens affecting British adults

With Mental Health Awareness Week upon us, we look at the British adults who suffer from stress/anxiety or depression, and what factors may be behind it.
15 May 2019
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Stress affects almost a third of adults

The latest data from Kantar’s TGI consumer study in Great Britain shows that over 7 million adults (31.1% of the population) claim to have suffered with stress/anxiety in the last 12 months and almost 3.5 million (14% of the population) say they suffer from depression.

Women are more likely to suffer from stress/anxiety, being 24% more likely than the average adult in GB to have it. Men are 24% less likely to say they have it, however we must bear in mind that men have a different outlook on feelings which may make them less likely to acknowledge mental distress.

According to our TGI consumer data, men are 36% more likely than the average adult to agree ‘real men don’t cry’ and 23% more likely to disagree ‘I like having a circle of close friends who support me in hard times’. Women are 22% less likely to disagree.

Social and work pressures affect the young generation

Younger generations are more likely to encounter stress/anxiety. Our TGI data shows that 15-24-year olds are 40% more likely than the average adult to say they have had stress/anxiety in the past 12 months, with 25-34-year olds being 23% more likely. The likeliness decreases with each age group, with those aged 65+ are 54% less likely to have suffered stress/anxiety.

Work, social media pressures and concerns about appearance could all be compelling contributors to why 15-24-year olds are more likely to encounter stress/anxiety. Adults in GB who say they worry about their work during leisure time are 83% more likely to be 15-24-year olds. This age group are also 83% more likely than the average adult to be influenced by comments/reviews posted online by other internet users and are 65% more likely to agree that people’s opinions on their appearance is very important to them.

The impact of relationship breakdowns, family strife and work worries on older adults

People going through break ups and separations are especially likely to be suffering from depression and this often impacts the middle aged in particular. Our TGI consumer data reveals that those who are separated are 59% more likely than the average adult in Great Britain to be suffering from depression. Those aged 45-54 are 48% more likely to be depressed. They are also 27% more likely to agree they are looking forward to their retirement and 25% more likely to say they only go to work for the money – showing that unhappiness with work could be a factor in their depression.

For this age group, family is likely to be particularly important compared to work, with the data revealing they are 26% less likely than the average adult to agree with the statement ‘I am willing to sacrifice time with my family to get ahead’.

Looking at all men who claim to be suffering from depression, they are 36% more likely to be in non-standard families (not married/living as a couple, live with relations, do not live with son/daughter and do not live with parents if 15-34), perhaps pointing towards want of a ‘normal’ family life. Women with depression are 54% more likely to be at the ‘Nest Builders’ life stage (15-34, marred/living as a couple, do not live with son/daughter).

Striking the right mental balance

Thus, at different ages there are varying levels of importance placed on aspects of life which could impact mental health issues. The younger generation are particularly focused on work and social pressures, both online and in physical appearance. The older generations’ issues arise based on family time and their personal relationships. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the everyday pressures that contribute to mental distress but being mindful of the triggers can go a long way to alleviating the issue.

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