The Wellbeing Report from Aviva

Millions suffering in silence - half of UK adults would be unsure about admitting to a mental health condition. Young adults (16-24) most affected.

  • 50% (26 million) of UK adults would feel uncomfortable or unsure about telling others if they had a mental health problem
  • Nearly half (47%) of UK adults say they have personally experienced a mental health condition
  • Young adults (16-24 years) have suffered more than other age groups with anxiety (46%) and depression (39%) in the past 12 months 
  • 16-24s are twice as likely not to seek treatment (13% vs 7% of UK adults)
  • Money worries (42%) and dissatisfaction over body image (33%) biggest causes of mental health conditions amongst this age group

Young people aged 16-24 years are more affected than other age groups by mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, yet are least likely to seek support, a new Aviva report into adult wellbeing in the UK shows. 

Despite the success of widespread initiatives to break the taboo of mental health across the UK, young adults are still almost twice as likely not to seek any support (13% vs 7% UK adults) compared to their older counterparts. 

Overall, the report from Aviva shows that half (50%) of UK adults would feel uncomfortable or unsure about telling others if they experienced a mental health problem. Almost the same proportion (47%) of UK adults are currently experiencing or have recovered from a past mental health condition themselves. 

Young adults most likely to be affected

However, it is young adults (16-24) who are more likely to say they have experienced a mental health condition (63% v 47% UK adults) and are the least comfortable discussing their mental health problems (33% vs 27% UK adults), suggesting millions of young adults could be going undiagnosed or ignored. They are also least likely to feel they are receiving the right treatment for their issues (15% vs 10% UK adults).

Nearly half (46%) of young adults say they have suffered from anxiety in the past 12 months, significantly higher than UK adults (35%). Depression is also more common amongst this younger age group (39% vs 30% UK adults). 

Across the UK, stress was found to be the most common mental health condition among UK adults of all ages, with 37% having experienced stress over the past year. This rose to 45% for young adults and while 17% of UK adults said they feel stressed every day, this climbed to 28% for young adults.

  Young Adults (16-24) UK adults (16+)
Uncomfortable telling people about a mental health problem 33% 27%
Experiencing a mental health condition but haven’t sought help  13% 7%
Experiencing a mental health condition but do not believe they’re receiving the right treatment  15% 10%
Experienced stress in the last year 45% 37%
Experienced anxiety in the last year 46% 35%
Experienced depression in the last year 39% 30%

Causes of mental health problems for young adults

Of the young adults who have experienced a mental health problem, body image appears to be one of the key contributors amongst this age group. A third (33%) of young adults cite unhappiness with their appearance as one of the main causes of their mental health problems, compared to just 18% of UK adults. Money worries (42%) is the only issue rated more highly than body image for young adults.

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director, Aviva UK Health comments:

“Mental illness is often dubbed an invisible illness, but that doesn’t mean its sufferers should remain silent. Tremendous work has been done to remove the stigma around mental health in recent years. However our research highlights how widespread mental health conditions are around the UK, particularly amongst younger adults, and those who are currently suffering should find some comfort in knowing they are not alone. Having open and honest conversations about mental health is the only way to break the taboo and help people seek the support they need.

“As with all illnesses, prevention is often better than cure. There are a whole host of methods we know can help adults combat mental health problems - whether that’s meditating, exercising or practicing mindfulness. The trick lies in finding the measure that suits you. Your GP can advise on the range of options, and which may suit you best. The most important thing is to have the conversation in the first place.”

Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind said:

“One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year. Thankfully, we’ve seen the national conversation on mental health move forward considerably in recent years. There has been a sea change in public attitudes over the past decade, with movements like Time to Change – our campaign with Rethink Mental Illness – and Heads Together getting more people than ever talking about mental health. However it’s clear that more needs to be done to get support for people who need it, when they need it, and the Wellbeing Report from Aviva emphasises that recent progress is only a starting point. 

“If you’re not feeling quite right and feel like you might need support, it’s always okay to ask for help. Whether you have a diagnosis or not, we’d recommend starting with your GP who could offer you support and treatment, or refer you to a specialist service. We have information to help you speak to your GP, and what to do if you aren’t getting the support you need, at”

Click here to see the Wellbeing Report from Aviva.


Media Enquiries:
Instinctif Partners: Fran Hart: 020 7866 2034 or  
Aviva Press Office:  Monique Crockett | 07800 693182 | or Jess Geoghegan | 07800 695673 |

Aviva’s spokesperson, Dr Doug Wright, is available for comment/broadcast interview

Based on a survey of 4,205 nationally representative UK adults aged 16 and above carried out by Censuswide in November 2017.  ‘Young adults’ refers to 16-24-year olds, and the survey included 663 16-24 year olds.

Notes to editors – about Aviva:

  • Aviva provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 33 million customers.
  • In the UK we are the leading insurer serving one in every four households and have strong businesses in selected markets in Europe, Asia and Canada. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE100 index.  
  • Aviva’s asset management business, Aviva Investors, provides asset management services to both Aviva and external clients, and currently manages over £340 billion in assets. Total group assets under management at Aviva group are £450 billion.
  • Aviva helps people save for the future and manage the risks of everyday life; we paid out £34.4 billion in benefits and claims in 2016.
  • By serving our customers well, we are building a business which is strong and sustainable, which our people are proud to work for, and which makes a positive contribution to society. 
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Notes to editors - about Mind:

  • We’re Mind, the mental health charity. We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect.
  • Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
  • Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday)
  • Contact Mind’s Media Team for interviews or further information on 0208 522 1743. For out of hours support, call 07850 788 514 or email 
  • To access to a range of free images to accompany mental health news stories, visit: These images have been developed by Time to Change, a campaign to change how we all think and act about mental health problems. Time to Change is led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund.