Poor mental health is UK’s most common medical complaint

Ahead of physical illnesses, research finds that mental health problems are now the UK’s most common medical complaint

One in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime – and, now, according to new research from not-for-profit healthcare provider Beneden Health, poor mental health has become the most common medical complaint for adults in the UK.

Broken down into age brackets, and assessing the rates of mental health problems in the past two years, it was discovered that 21% of 25–34 years olds experienced a mental health problem in this period, 18% of 35–44 year olds, 16% of 45–54-year-olds. 55+-year-olds were the only generation where mental health problems did not top the list of conditions they experience – arthritis and high blood pressure preceding mental health.

But this isn’t the first time that the extent of mental health problems has been highlighted, with a 2018 survey from the charity Mind uncovering that two in five, or 40%, of all GP appointments involve mental health – leading the organisation to back existing calls to extend GP training to allow for more time for trainee GPs to gain experience in mental health.

What is a mental health problem?

Many things come under the umbrella of ‘mental health problem’, including anxiety, depression, stress, body image problems, and burnout – as well as other mental health conditions such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), OCD, ADHD, and eating disorders, to name a few.

If you think you may be experiencing a mental health problem, you should speak to your GP. They will be able to advise you on your next steps, and signpost helpful resources. There are also a number of self-help guides on leading mental health charity websites such as Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

Following the pandemic, mental health problems have widely been reported to be on the rise, with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse in particular peaking. The findings have prompted some to predict the oncoming of a ‘mental health crisis’, a sentiment that is echoed by Cheryl Lythgoe, matron at Benenden Health.

“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.”

If you need support with your mental health, connect with a counsellor using counselling-directory.org.uk