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

Mental Health Foundation: A Stressed nation

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, Stress: are we coping?

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.”

Watch our animation. Stress: are you coping?

But it doesn’t have to be this way. By tackling stress, we lower the risk of future mental health problems. But how can we do this?

We can start looking with you and me:

  • Try to think through what is causing stress and how it could be managed differently.
  • It may help to get a bit more physical exercise. Going for that walk or swim helps balance life.
  • Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress.
  • You could try reducing drinking and smoking which can make problems worse rather than better.
  • Take a break. Even short breaks from work or a person you find difficult can help manage the stresses and strains of daily life.
  • Try a few minutes of mindfulness each day. We know from research that mindfulness is effective in reducing stress and anxiety