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Mental health stigma stopping public from seeking help

Up to 12 million UK adults with stress, anxiety and depression in the past year did not seek help finds new research

Up to 12 million UK adults suffering from stress, anxiety and depression in the past year did not seek any help, according to new research.

Nearly half (42%) who experienced mental health problems were too embarrassed to tell people. Money worries are the main cause of depression and anxiety, while poor body image is the top cause of depression for 18-24-year-olds.

Stress (33%, anxiety (29%) and depression (23%) are the most common mental health conditions experienced in the past year.

Kate Nightingale, head of communications at Time to Change, said: 'We know that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year but sadly these figures highlight that many of us are still too embarrassed to talk about it. Our research shows nearly nine out of 10 people with mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination as a result, and the fear of how others might react can hold us back from seeking vital support from friends, family and colleagues. But we need to accept that mental health problems can happen to any one of us, stop judging and start talking and listening more openly.'

Of those who experienced stress 55% did not seek support, while 48% did not seek help for anxiety. People are more likely to speak up about depression, but around three in 10 of those with depression in the last year still did not ask for help.

Many respondents attributed the stigma associated with mental health as the reason for not seeking help. Almost a third agreed that they would be too embarrassed to tell people if they had a mental health issue. This rises to 42% of those who have previously experienced mental health problems.

Men were found to be less likely than women to seek help for anxiety and depression, but more likely than women to seek help for stress.

The research was conducted by insurance company Aviva ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (16-22 May).