Over a million Scots 'experience anxiety affecting their daily lives'

The research marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week from May 15 to May 21.

More than one million adults across Scotland have experienced levels of anxiety stopping them from living their daily lives, new research has shown.

Polling of 1,000 adults in Scotland conducted by Opinium on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation charity has shown 70% of adults have had some anxiety while 58% of adults experienced anxiety that interfered with their daily lives in the past two weeks.

The research marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week from May 15 to May 21, with the charity raising the alarm about the impact of anxiety on adults in Scotland.

More than one quarter (27%) said they experienced anxiety and felt anxious to the extent it stopped them from doing what they would like or what they need to do most or all of the time in the last two weeks.

Despite anxiety being very common, more than four in 10 adults (44%) kept their feelings secret, suggesting significant numbers of people are still not comfortable talking about their own experiences, despite more progress in discussing mental health more openly in recent years.

The polling also found one in five (21%) adults felt anxious all or most of the time.

One in three people (30%) say they are not coping well with feelings of anxiety and 33% say they feel anxious about paying the bills and 42% said more financial security would help prevent anxiety.

Julie Cameron, associate director at Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, said: “Across Scotland more than one million adults are experiencing levels of anxiety that is stopping them from living their lives, with many not speaking out and struggling to cope.

“More can and must be done to protect our mental health. A big focus of our Mental Health Awareness Week is to encourage people to share their experiences on anxiety and increase understanding of the steps we can take. However, the scale of the problems requires change that goes beyond individual action.

“We urge the Scottish Government to publish a cross-departmental mental health strategy for the next 10 years with a delivery plan that contains commitments on mental health from all departments including those that cover social security, housing, communities, education, and criminal justice.

“We welcome the commitment to funding the Communities Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund in this year, but it is underfunded and not able to support all the worthy applicant community organisations; funding needs to be increased so people can get preventative mental health support before they become unwell.

Mental wellbeing Minister Maree Todd said: “I welcome the Mental Health Foundation’s report, as it is an important contribution to a national discussion on mental health and wellbeing.

“Supporting and promoting the mental wellbeing of the population of Scotland is a Scottish Government priority. I know that many people are experiencing stress and anxiety right now, which is why looking after our mental health has never been more important.

“We are supporting and promoting the mental wellbeing of the population of Scotland in several ways, including investing £30m in community-based support for children, young people, and adults.

“A range of support is currently available online for those needing mental health help, including Mind to Mind – a website which provides practical resources to support the mental wellbeing of the population of Scotland.

“Our forthcoming mental health and wellbeing strategy will focus on every part of what mental health and wellbeing means.

“That ranges from addressing the underlying reasons behind poor mental health; helping to create the conditions for people to thrive, challenging the stigma around mental health, and providing specialist help and support for mental illness.

“The Mental Health Foundation are a key stakeholder and have been working with us to develop the Strategy.”