Three in four Britons felt overwhelmed by stress, survey reveals

Extensive mental health study into the impact of stress also shows one in three felt suicidal and one in six self-harmed

man with hand to his forehead
The report shows young adults are the age group most vulnerable to stress. Photograph: Yuricazac/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Three in four Britons have been so stressed at least once over the last year that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, according to the biggest survey into the impact of stress.

Stress can be so damaging to wellbeing that one in three people have been left feeling suicidal, and one in six have self-harmed as a direct result, the findings show.

Mental health experts said the huge number of people affected should prompt employers, NHS staff and ministers to do more to reduce stress’s debilitating effects and provide more help.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said: “This survey shows just how severe the impact of stress can be on our lives, whether we have a mental health diagnosis or not. That a third of people have felt suicidal as a result of stress in the last year is staggering. More must be done to support people at the earliest possible stage so that stress does not spiral into an overwhelming and damaging situation.”

The survey results are significant because of the large number of participants – 4,619 adults – and the fact they were representative of the UK population as a whole.

Isabella Goldie, director of the Mental Health Foundation thinktank, which commissioned the research, 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 is not being taken as seriously as physical health concerns.”

Women emerged as the worst affected. While 74% of adults said they had felt so stressed at some point during the last year that they were left overwhelmed or unable to cope, 81% of women said so compared to 67% of men.

Similarly, while 32% overall said stress had triggered suicidal feelings, 35% women compared to 29% of men reported that reaction. And while 16% of the participants had harmed themselves due to stress, 18% of women were likely to say that compared to 13% of men.

Young adults are the age group most vulnerable to stress. Overall, 83% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they had been left overwhelmed or unable to cope, more than the 74% average and far more than the prevalence among those aged 55 or over (65%). Similarly, above average numbers of young adults had felt suicidal (39%), or self-harmed (29%), because of stress.

“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,” the new report concludes.

Chronic or long-term stress can affect sleep, memory and eating habits and increase the risk of irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers and heart disease. Significant minorities respond by over-eating, drinking, taking drugs or smoking.

It can also lead to anxiety, depression and relapses of schizophrenia. People living in poverty, social isolation, in minority communities, or those with long-term health problems are most likely to experience serious stress, the report says.

Having one or more long-term health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes or heart issues, is the biggest risk factor for stress. More than a third of respondents (36%) identified those conditions as stressors.

Work issues, including working outside normal hours, and a poor work-life balance, is the next commonest cause. In 2016 NHS staff alone took 15m days off due to stress, anxiety or depression. Money problems, especially debt, is also a key potential trigger for stress, according to 22% of respondents.

“Stress isn’t a mental illness in itself. But all mental health nurses know that we are all vulnerable to it and that if left unmanaged, stress can be a precursor to more serious health conditions,” said Catherine Gamble, the Royal College of Nursing’s professional lead for mental health.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Tackling stress through positive mental health support not only improves our lives as individuals, but makes good business sense. Failure to adequately support the workforce is costing our economy up to £99bn per year.

“In their roles as employers the civil service and the NHS are adopting new standards around mental health, as set out in the recent independent review into mental health in the workplace commissioned by the prime minister. This includes implementing mental health plans at work, developing awareness, and monitoring health and wellbeing.”

The Guardian 14th May 2018

Published by

mike2all

This is the story of what happened to me when anxiety took a grip. I lost my senses, I lost my job, and I lost me. I then turned to writing to find those things that had gone missing. How can you teach when you believe that education is a business that is failing in its primary remit of helping to create a better society? Indeed, how can you teach when you believe that you have nothing of value to pass on? The book/blog is the story of my recovery from the absolute darkness of the early days. It is an Odyssey through my life over the last twelve months and a retracing of my steps to discover how I found myself there. More than all of that, it is a re-evaluation and a rejoicing of all that which I call life. Happy reading and I hope it helps. There is madness, Everyday Madness, and not all of it comes from within.

13 thoughts on “Three in four Britons felt overwhelmed by stress, survey reveals”

  1. Stress is the biggest trigger for flare ups of my various health problems.

    I just hope that the big Pharma devils don’t use this as a reason to push more pills. Meds are great for people who need them. I’m on quite a few, myself.
    I think the answer would be to pay people a living wage, quit demanding more outcome with less support, more employee-friendly work environments…
    I’ll stop…LOL. I’ve got ALLLLL the answers, NOT!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As usual, you have your finger on the pulse. People suffer when they feel that they have little control over the direction of their lives. the ones at the top suffer less (research-proved). The answer is take back control.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok-ish… Life is ganging up on me again. Fri we got hit with a heat wave 43C, then Sat & Sun 38C– no AC. 🙁 Little Mr Man was obviously home since no school on weekends, and my reoccurring health thing decided to join the fun.
        No worries… I’ll be back to bugging the crap out of everyone again soon.
        Thanks for checking on me dude! Totally rad!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. In 2016 over there were over 6000 suicides in the UK in comparison to just over 1700 deaths from road accidents. The government are saying that by 2030, stress wìll be the top reason for people being off work. Presumably this is why they are now eager to get these Suicide Prevention Plans implemented throughout all the Health Authorities…..2 years too late for my family but hopefully other mama’s children will get some understanding and help 💔

    Liked by 1 person

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