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by Wanda Rich
portrait of female patients and mature doctor interacting at medical consultation in h SBI 300908012

5 October 2021

Poor mental health is now the most common medical complaint for UK adults, according to new research from not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health.

Mental health illnesses including depression and anxiety were the most commonly reported health condition in the UK during the past two years, with more than a fifth of 25-34 year olds (21%) revealing that they have suffered during this time period, the most of any age group.

Similar numbers were reported across the generations with a fifth of 16-24 (19%) and 35-44 year olds (18%) revealing their struggles, along with 16% of 45-54 year olds and one in ten 55+ year olds – the only generation that did not name mental health illnesses top of the list of conditions they have recently experienced.

Here, arthritis (14%), was the most commonly reported condition, followed by high blood pressure (12%) and then poor mental health (10%).

Following its findings, Benenden Health is warning that the nation is facing a mental health crisis across all generations with the number of older people living with mental illness often unreported.

The organisation has launched a new report shedding light on the key health concerns and conditions affecting the nation and offering advice to businesses on how to provide support to all employees.

Its survey of 2,000 adults also highlighted that there has been little progress in reducing the stigma associated with discussing mental health – especially in the workplace – with mental health illnesses named the most common medical complaint not discussed with employers across every single generation. Among their concerns, workers cited that they feared people thinking they wouldn’t be able to do their job, that they would be talked about and that ultimately it might cost them their employment.

Workers also revealed that they are more concerned about poor mental health impacting them than any other illness, with twice as many respondents worried about the potential impact of poor mental wellbeing than cancer.

A quarter of employees said they were concerned about mental health illnesses impacting them (24%), with high blood pressure and cancer (both 12%) completing the top three.

This was revealed to be the case across all generations with the exception of 55+ year olds, where only arthritis was named as a bigger worry.

Matron at Benenden Health, Cheryl Lythgoe, said: “Exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s mental health is at a perilous point, with UK adults revealing it to now be the most common condition in the country and also the one medical complaint that they are most concerned about, with this far from restricted to younger generations.

“Throughout each generation, mental wellbeing needs to be a significant priority in order to stem this flow and we need to look at ensuring that everyone has the necessary – and tailored – support to suit their needs.

“If you are living with symptoms of poor mental health or are concerned about them developing, please do not be afraid to tell someone – whether this is someone you know or a medical professional – as you are far from alone and in doing so, you are taking the first step towards understanding the root cause of the illness and getting the necessary support.”

Benenden Health is a not-for-profit organisation offering high quality, private healthcare at the same affordable cost for everyone. This includes round the clock care such as 24/7 GP and Mental Health helplines, plus speedy access to services such as physiotherapy and medical treatment.

For advice on how to talk about your physical and mental health at work, go to: https://www.benenden.co.uk/a/stay-well-at-work-with-benenden-health/.