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15 Jun 2021

Mental Health has become a significant topic around the UK recently. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people, both negatively and positively, mental health wise. However, according to our survey, the pandemic has unfortunately had a negative impact on mental health as a whole. 

Please note: There may be parts of this article that some readers find triggering or upsetting, particularly in relation to the prevalence of online searches that reference suicide.

 

Mental Health - The Quick Version

 

Our survey found that:
 

  • More than half the people in the UK (50.07%) say their mental health is worse than it was before the pandemic. 

  • Only around 9% of people claim their mental health has improved in some way throughout the pandemic.

 

  • Young people aged 16-24 say their mental health has been affected more by the pandemic than other age groups, both positively and negatively. 

Mental Health During The COVID-19 Pandemic - Survey Findings

 

Gender

The pandemic has caused both men and women to step back and look at their mental health. We wanted to find out whether men or women were affected more and here are the findings:
 

  • Over 50% of women admit their mental health is worse now than it was before the pandemic.

  • Slightly less males (46%) believe their mental health has become worse since before the pandemic.

  • Twice as many men than women claim their mental health has significantly improved since before the pandemic.

 

Age

We also wanted to know whether the COVID-19 pandemic had affected people differently at different ages, here are the results:
 

  • 62% of people aged 16-24 believe their mental health has worsened since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. With 1 in 4 stating that their mental wellbeing has become a lot worse since before the pandemic.

  • 35-44 year olds claim that their mental health has become a little worse, more than any other age range.

  • More than 1 in 3 people aged 55 and over claim their mental health has become worse since the pandemic.

  • Twice as many people aged 16-24 than 55+ have been affected by the pandemic in either a positive or negative way.

 

Location

We were interested in whether certain locations were affected the most mentally by the pandemic and here is what we found:

  • People in the East Midlands say their mental health has been affected more negatively than any other UK region compared with before the pandemic.
  • 1 in 5 people in Scotland claim their mental health has become a lot worse since the pandemic started.

  • Over half of people in the North West believe their mental health has become worse since before the pandemic.

 

Parts of the UK where peoples’ mental health has worsened most since before the pandemic.

 

Occupation

It was also interesting to us to find out which occupations may have been affected the most by the pandemic:

  • 43% of those who don’t work have had their mental health worsened in one way or another since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Nearly half of teachers believe their mental health is now worse since before the pandemic.

  • 65.5% of nurses claim their mental health has become worse since before the pandemic.

  • 27.5% of childminders on the other hand, say they feel their mental health is better now than it was before the COVID outbreak.

Suicide Statistics in the UK 

Although our survey revealed that peoples’ mental health in the East Midlands has been affected the most by the pandemic in a negative way, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly which parts of the UK have the most problems with their mental health in general. However, one useful way of finding out how people in the UK are feeling is by looking at online search trends. 

 

That’s why we conducted an analysis to find out which parts of the UK are searching for terms relating to mental health the most. The first analysis we conducted was searches for the term ‘How to commit suicide’*. The results found can be found in the table below. 


*Please note that in line with the Samaritan’s guidelines, Formulate Health does not condone the use of the phrase “commit suicide”, this term is simply used here in reference to data obtained from our Google search analysis which suggests that the UK public still primarily uses this term.

 

Town/City

Region

Average Monthly Searches Per 100,000 People For ‘How to commit suicide’

Manchester

North West

35.39

Birmingham

West Midlands

28.44

Glasgow

Scotland

21.97

Leeds

Yorkshire and the Humber

19.77

Coventry

West Midlands

19.48

London

London

18.52

Leicester

East Midlands

17.68

Edinburgh

Scotland

17.20

Bristol

South West

16.20

Kingston upon Hull

Yorkshire and the Humber

12.73

We used the Keyword Finder tool to find the average monthly searches per search term in different towns and cities. We then divided this number by the population of each town/city and multiplied by 100,000.

As you can see from the table:

  • People in Manchester search for the term ‘How to commit suicide’ the most per 100,000 people, followed by Birmingham and Glasgow.
  • Out of the top 10 towns/cities that have the most search volume per 100,000 people, only 2 are in Southern regions of the UK.

It’s important to note that each search does not necessarily represent a different individual. The same term could be searched for multiple times by the same person for instance. However, for the purpose of our study we used this method to discover and compare the proportion of searches by population.

 

How many people in the UK are depressed? 


Using the same method as above, we also found the top 10 towns/cities in terms of average monthly searches per 100,000 people for the search term ‘Depressed’.

 

Town/City

Region

Average Monthly Searches Per 100,000 People For ‘Depressed’

Manchester

North West

379.25

Glasgow

Scotland

270.44

Leeds

Yorkshire and the Humber

263.66

Bristol

South West

226.80

Coventry

West Midlands

217.11

Edinburgh

Scotland

215.06

Kingston upon Hull

Yorkshire and the Humber

181.52

Leicester

East Midlands

176.85

Liverpool

North West

162.01

Sheffield

Yorkshire and the Humber

160.50

As you can see from the table: 

  • Manchester is significantly higher than the rest of the UK in terms of average searches per 100,000 people for the term ‘Depressed’. 

  • Only 1 place out of the top 10 is in a Southern region of the UK.

 

Anti-Anxiety Drug Prescriptions Rates in England 


Using NHS prescription data, we conducted an analysis to find out which CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) in England prescribe the most anti-anxiety drugs on average per 1,000 people each month. Our findings were as follows:

 

CCG

Average Monthly Anti-Anxiety Prescriptions Per 1,000 People 

St Helens

22.75

Brighton and Hove

17.94

Isle of Wight

17.72

North East Essex

16.29

Norfolk and Waveney

15.94

Halton

15.94

Liverpool

15.54

Knowsley

15.49

Blackburn with Darwen

15.42

Southport and Formby

14.69

Wirral

14.44

South Sefton

14.21

Kernow

14.20

East Sussex

13.64

Lincolnshire

13.47

Barnsley

13.27

Devon

13.26

Gloucestershire

12.95

Tameside and Glossop

12.58

Stockport

12.28

The top 20 prescribing CCGs for Anti-Anxiety Drug Prescriptions as of May 2021

 

As you can see, the CCG with the highest proportion of Anti-Anxiety Drug Prescriptions is St Helens, followed by Brighton and Hove then the Isle of Wight.

 

Anti-Depressant Drug Prescription Rates in England 


Using NHS prescription data, we were also able to discover which CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) in England prescribe the most anti-depressant drugs on average per 1,000 people each month. The findings are shown below.

 

CCG

Average Monthly Anti-Depressant Prescriptions Per 1,000 People

Blackpool

214.38

Sunderland

201.41

County Durham

188.94

Barnsley

176.17

South Tyneside

170.28

St Helens

168.72

North Tyneside

167.42

Newcastle Gateshead

165.73

Knowsley

161.54

Tees Valley

158.94

West Suffolk

155.29

Salford

155.00

Lincolnshire

153.40

Hull

153.24

Northumberland

152.26

Norfolk and Waveney

149.27

North East Essex

144.72

Wirral

143.94

Liverpool

142.35

Stoke on Trent

139.92

The top 20 prescribing CCGs for Antidepressant Drug Prescriptions as of May 2021

 

Suicide Rates in the UK in 2021 

  • That's equivalent to 110 suicides every week

  • ...Or an average of more than 15 a day

Across England and Wales in 2019, the male suicide rate was 16.9 deaths per 100,000 which was the highest since 2000. For females, the rate was 5.3 deaths per 100,000, the highest since 2004. 

Males aged 45-49 years of age had the highest age-specific suicide rate of 25.5 deaths per 100,000 males. Whereas with females, the age range with the highest rate was 50-54 years with 7.4 deaths per 100,000.

These mental health statistics show that there’s still a long way to go in terms of helping sufferers of any types of mental health issues.

If you or anyone you know is in need of help, you can call Samaritans for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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