A study of 2,000 adults commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation has found that the average adult will say “I’m fine” 14 times a week, though just 19% really mean it.
Almost a third of those surveyed said they often lie about how they are feeling to other people, while 1 in 10 went as far to say they always lie about their emotional state.
It also revealed that 59% of us expect the answer to be a lie when we ask others “how are you feeling?”
Mark Rowland, Director of the Mental Health Foundation said:
“While it may appear that most of us are happy openly discussing feelings, these survey results reveal that many of us are really just sticking to a script.
“This creates an illusion of support. On the surface, we’re routinely checking in with each other, but beneath that, many of us feel unable to say how we’re really feeling.”
The survey also found that men are more than twice as likely to be dishonest to others when it comes to their emotions, with 22% admitting they always lie about how they feel, compared to 10% of women. Women, however, are more likely to be hurt emotionally: 41% of women have regretted opening up to someone in the past, compared to 29% of men.
44% of those surveyed also said that they have regretted asking somebody how they were doing after receiving an answer they weren’t prepared for.
As for those “fine” Brits, 34% reported using the term “I’m fine” as a response because it is more convenient than explaining how they really feel, while 23% say it because they think the person asking isn’t really interested.
In a question aimed at uncovering our attitudes towards our own emotions, just 1 in 10 people enjoy opening up, while the majority remain indifferent to expressing themselves to others. 52% actively dislike discussing their feelings, and 1 in 7 say they do not have an outlet in their lives where they can express how they honestly feel.
Mark Rowland continued:
“The people around us in our lives are crucial for our mental health. People with strong connections live happier, healthier and longer lives than those without. That’s why we all need a healthy network of friends and family who we are comfortable to confide in when we need to.
“Next time someone asks ‘how are you?’, try going off the standard script and tell the truth instead of ‘I’m fine’ and see how a more meaningful conversation unfolds.”
The Mental Health Foundation has launched an ‘I’m Fine’ campaign to encourage Brits to open up about mental health and ‘bring back meaning’ to daily conversations.