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Society Watch 2021

Mental health - Should we be worried?

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Published: April 2021

The annual Society Watch series provides a snapshot of what life is like for people in Britain today, a picture of people’s lives and life opportunities presented from the cradle to the grave. Society Watch 2021 focuses on the public’s mental health.

Mental wellbeing has risen up the public policy agenda over the last two decades, becoming a key priority for all four countries’ health systems within the United Kingdom. Politicians, policy makers, families, educational establishments, health and care providers and employers are all grappling with how best to maintain our mental health and support those of us with mental health difficulties.

So what does the evidence tell policy makers and practitioners about the public’s mental health and should we be worried about it?

This report provides an overview of the public’s mental health and how it is affecting people’s lives, although it does not aspire to be a comprehensive record because of the scale of research now being undertaken. It also provides new, previously unpublished, analysis by NatCen from the Understanding Society longitudinal study showing the impacts of the COVID–19 pandemic on the public’s financial and mental health.

Download the full mental health report.

Watch the report launch on YouTube.

Presentation slides from the event:

Media coverage:

Explore last year's Society Watch report on social trends.

Download the Society Watch 2021: Mental health report

Download the ELSA data tables on depression

Download the finances and mental health briefing paper

Download the data tables on financial inequalities