Personal wellbeing in Britain declines to lowest level in 10 years

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Lonely sad woman deep in thoughts sitting daydreaming or waiting for someone in the living room with a serious expression, she is pensive and suffering from insomnia sitting on couch
The personal wellbeing survey looked at estimates of life satisfaction, the feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile, and happiness and anxiety at the UK, country, regional, county and local authority level. Photo: Getty

Personal wellbeing in the UK deteriorated in the year ending March 2021, in what was the greatest decline since the survey started a decade ago.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday, average ratings across all indicators slumped during the year.

The personal wellbeing survey looked at estimates of life satisfaction, the feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile, and happiness and anxiety at the UK, country, regional, county and local authority level.

It was the first release to take place entirely during the coronavirus pandemic. Since 2011, the ONS has asked personal well-being questions to UK adults aged 16 years and over to better understand how they feel about their lives.

Life satisfaction saw a 0.27 point decline, anxiety fell 0.26 points, happiness was down 0.17 points, and feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile dropped 0.15 points.

Read more: Mental health issues rise among UK employees as 'survival mode' becomes new normal

The data showed that anxiety ratings increased in all countries and regions of the UK when compared with the previous period, apart from Northern Ireland and the North East. The largest increases were in the West Midlands and the North West.

The West Midlands also saw the largest decrease in happiness over the period, alongside Yorkshire and The Humber, while the North East and East Midlands did not see a decline.

It comes as a growing number of UK employees experienced increased worries about their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to research by Close Brothers earlier this year, more than half (51%) had expressed concerns, up from 41% in May 2020. This represents a percentage increase of 24% over the time period.

Read more: Mental health breaks: Why more companies should follow Nike and Bumble

During the past 12 months, the percentage of 18-34 year olds experiencing mental health worries has risen to 63% and among those 55+ it has rocketed by more than a third to 37%.

Worries about financial and physical health have also been hit by a year of lockdown. Around two in five (39%) employees have experienced an increase in worries about their financial health.

Female employees (44%) have been significantly more impacted than their male colleagues (34%), while it’s those aged 18-34 that are the age demographic which has felt it hardest, with more than half of them (51%) experiencing greater money worries.

Watch: Simple ways to use mindfulness to improve mental health

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