We are calling for a national prevention strategy to reduce the risk of people experiencing mental health problems and for mindfulness to be made available in all areas.
Mental Health Awareness Week launches on Monday 11 May. A new survey by YouGov of over 2,000 British adults, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, reports significant numbers of people always or often feeling stressed (29%), anxious (24%) and depressed (17%).
It also found that nearly half (46%) of workers struggle to switch off from work, and that nearly two thirds of people (65%) would be likely to take part in activities that reduce stress.
Commenting, our CEO Jenny Edwards CBE said:
"We have just had a General Election where for the first time mental health was a key issue addressed in the manifestos of the major parties. The public are calling for practical action. It’s now time to hold the new Conservative Government to commit to significant steps. Of course adequate funding of mental health services is vital, but we also need a national prevention strategy for mental health to help prevent mental health problems from developing wherever possible. We need to tackle the causes that increase the risks of mental ill health and to equip people with practical tools that help prevent stress, anxiety and depression, and build resilience.
"Mindfulness is one of the most encouraging practices to support good mental health. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction was originally developed for helping patients attending pain clinics. Now mindfulness based approaches are being successfully used in a wide range of settings and for different conditions. Studies provide good evidence of the impact in many areas. People from all walks of life testify to the transformation in their quality of life as a result of practicing mindfulness regularly.
"Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and endorsed in the Chief Medical Officer’s Mental Health report, for reducing the risk of recurrent depression, cutting relapse rates in half. However, the evidence to date is that only a handful of Clinical Commissioning Groups make mindfulness available in their area.
"We are calling for mindfulness to be available in all areas of the country so that GPs can recommend it and NICE recommendations can be acted upon. We also encourage people to consider mindfulness as a self-help practice that can build our resilience and capacity to deal with life’s challenges and the stress so many people feel so regularly."
The survey also found that whilst a majority of people (59%) were unaware of mindfulness, a majority of people who ever feel stressed (54%) said they would be very or fairly likely to practice it if they knew that doing it from just 15 minutes a day could reduce stress levels by 30%. There are many ways to practice mindfulness through experienced trainers, including online and offline courses, books and apps. Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week we have also re-launched our website dedicated to mindfulness: www.bemindful.co.uk. The site features a register of UK teachers and access to our own online course developed with some of the UK’s leading mindfulness practitioners.
Deena Dahabiyeh, who practices mindfulness, testifies:
"I practice mindfulness when I start to feel my emotions quickly rising. There were times when I was scared to go out without my mum because I feared being at a tube station alone and irrational thoughts would start stirring in my head. But the great thing about mindfulness is that you can do it anywhere. I would focus on something, even if it was a picture on the wall or a pen, and that allowed the intensity of my emotions to settle and rest. The end result was that the severity of my emotions decreased and I stopped making such irrational choices. Mindfulness helps me to stop the intensity of emotions skyrocketing from a level 1 - a slight annoyance - to a level 10 intense anger in a second – I can therefore intervene earlier with my emotions.”"
For more details, or to arrange an interview with the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, Jenny Edwards CBE, and/or case studies, please contact the press office on 02078031129 / 07880781596 or via[email protected].
All figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,035 adults, of which 1,224 are workers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th - 29th April 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
Key results include:
In general, how easy or hard do you find it to not think about work once you have finished working for the day?
- 46% reported fairly hard or very hard.
Generally speaking, how often, if at all, would you say you feel each of the following emotions?
- Stressed: 29% reported always or often
- Anxious: 24% reported always or often
- Depressed: 17% reported always or often.
Please imagine there was an activity you could do that would take 15 minutes every day and would reduce your stress levels…How likely, if at all, do you think you would be to do this activity?
- 65% reported very or fairly likely.
“Mindfulness” is a form of therapy aimed at reducing anxiety, stress, and depression, usually through meditation, yoga and breathing exercises. It intends to increase people’s awareness of themselves and their emotions, as well as the environment around them and how this may impact their mental health. Before taking this survey had you heard of mindfulness?
- I had never heard of mindfulness before taking this survey: 59%
- I had heard of mindfulness but I had no understanding of what it is: 11%
- I had heard of mindfulness and I had some understanding of what it is: 19%
- I had heard of mindfulness and I had a good understanding of what it is: 11%
Of those that ever feel stressed: if you knew that practicing mindfulness for 15 minutes every day could help reduce your stress levels by at least 30% how likely if at all would you be to practice it?
- Very likely: 16%
- Fairly likely: 38%
- Not very likely: 26%
- Not at all likely: 11%
- Don’t know: 9%
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