Aviva publishes new research for World Mental Health Day

Two in three (65%) UK adults have experienced a mental health condition.

In advance of World Mental Health Day (10th October), Aviva has published the following research*, commentary and advice:

  • Almost two in three (65%) UK adults say they have experienced a mental health condition at some point in their life. 
  • Despite the prevalence of mental health conditions, the taboo persists. Just 52% of UK adults would feel comfortable telling people about their mental health condition.
  • 10% of UK adults believe the stigma surrounding mental health conditions has worsened in recent years.
  • Three in four (71%) women have experienced a mental health condition at some point in their life, compared to 58% of men.

Have you experienced any of the following in the last year?

Most prevalent mental health conditions

Anxiety 52%
Stress 50%
Depression 46%
Panic attacks 25%
Insomnia 25%

Source: Aviva, 2018 (respondents who have had mental health problems). Respondents could select more than one option.

What do you think are the main causes of your condition/conditions?

Causes of mental health issues

Money worries 34%
Family pressures 21%
Unhappy with body image 17%
Relationship difficulties  17%
Work pressures 16%

Source: Aviva, 2018 (respondents who have had mental health problems). Respondents could select more than one option. 

Dr Subashini M, Associate Medical Director at Aviva, comments on World Mental Health Day: 

“Our research highlights that unfortunately there is still a taboo surrounding mental health, despite our findings suggesting nearly two in three UK adults have experienced a mental health condition at some point in their life. 

“The most prevalent mental health conditions, according to our research, were anxiety, stress, depression, panic attacks and insomnia. In the same way we would if we were physically ill, it is important to feel able to speak up when our mental health is impacted, as the stresses and strains of every day life can take their toll on all of us from time to time.

“World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to encourage everyone to get rid of the stigma surrounding this topic and be more aware of the impact of mental health. No one should feel uncomfortable talking about how they feel nor of asking for help to find the best ways to manage their condition.

“Employers should play an important role in understanding, recognising and supporting anyone who is suffering from a condition that impacts their mental health.

“We are strong advocates of focusing on both physical and mental wellbeing here at Aviva. We provide a range of support options for our people from encouraging them to take up preventative measures like exercise and healthy eating, to counselling and rehabilitation services to help them make a timely return to work.” 

Hear from some of our people on how we have supported them.

Top tips on how to manage mental illness

  • Speak out – if you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, talk to a family member, friend or doctor to tell them how you feel. A problem shared is a problem halved and they may well be able to help you decide the next steps to take. If you’re experiencing problems at work, speak to your manager or HR department to find out what support is on offer. 
  • Me-time – a couple of minutes meditating and deep breathing can work wonders alleviating stress and anxiety. If you’re unsure where to start with meditating, there are a whole host of apps available to guide you through the process.
  • Regular exercise – exercise not only brings physical benefits but mental ones too. Breaking a sweat releases endorphins that can help relax your body and mind. Just 30 minutes of physical activity can tackle issues such as stress and insomnia. If the idea of hours on a treadmill fills you with dread, why not try taking up a new sport to make the habit of exercising that bit easier?
  • Power down – our bodies need to time to shift into sleep mode. Rather than browsing the internet or watching TV, why not try a more calming activity such as reading or taking a bath? Avoiding electronic devices before bed can help to combat sleepless lights by cutting exposure to lights which stimulate the brain. 
  • Mental health sick day - in many UK workplaces, employees maybe worried that heavy workloads will continue to pile up in their absence and feel forced to attend work even when they are unwell. Sick days are not just for physical illnesses; have the confidence to speak to your employer if you need some time out. 
  • Look after yourself – remember that it is just as important to maintain a balanced, nutritional diet for your mental health as it is for your physical health. When it comes to alcohol be sensible about your intake.



Instinctif Partners:

Katy Chambers



Sally Richards


*Research conducted by Censuswide in August 2018 across a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults.

Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK's leading diversified insurer and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in India and China.
  • We help our 19.2 million (as at 31 December 2023) customers make the most out of life, plan for the future, and have the confidence that if things go wrong we’ll be there to put it right.
  • We have been taking care of people for more than 325 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’. In 2023, we paid £25.6 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
  • In 2021, we announced our ambition to become Net Zero by 2040, the first major insurance company in the world to do so. We are aiming to have Net Zero carbon emissions from Aviva’s operations and supply chain by 2030. While we are working towards our sustainability ambitions, we recognise that while we have control over Aviva’s operations and influence on our supply chain, when it comes to decarbonising the economy in which we operate and invest, Aviva is one part of a far larger global ecosystem. There are also limits to our ability to influence other organisations and governments. Nevertheless, we remain focused on the task and are committed to playing our part in the collective effort to enable the global transition. Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition and action at www.aviva.com/sustainability
  • Aviva is a Living Wage, Living Pension and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at https://www.aviva.com/about-us/our-people/
  • As at 31 December 2023, total Group assets under management at Aviva Group were £376 billion and our estimated Solvency II shareholder capital surplus as at 31 March 2024 was £8.5 billion. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
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