Findings published today from ‘Mental Wellbeing in the UK’ research commissioned by the British Science Association (BSA) reveal that one in ten (15%) adults surveyed by YouGov in Northern Ireland described their mental wellbeing as poor; and a third (33%) said their wellbeing had worsened since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced in March 2020.

Other findings from the survey showed that across the UK, more women (52%) than men (39%) said their wellbeing had deteriorated. Unemployed people (40%) and full-time students (28%) were most likely to describe their mental wellbeing as ‘poor’; and homeowners (56%), retired people (63%) and those with a gross annual household income of £45,000+ (53%) were most likely to describe theirs as ‘good’. A third (34%) of all UK adults surveyed said they thought young people aged 16-30 were most likely to have poor mental wellbeing in the area where they live.

Reaching people who may have been overlooked by research in the past is a key aim of The Ideas Fund – a new grants fund that will enable the public to think about, develop and test ideas to help improve mental wellbeing in the area where they live.

Register your interest in The Ideas Fund

The Fund has been designed to help people tackle problems that matter to them by connecting them with research professionals who can help bring their ideas to life. Initially the Fund will focus on ideas related to mental wellbeing, with £3.29m funding to support community initiatives in four geographical areas of the UK including the Derry & Strabane District Council area.

The Ideas Fund aims to reach people particularly in rural or minority ethnic communities, amongst the young, marginalised and socioeconomically disadvantaged people. In Northern Ireland, the Fund is working in partnership with us, at Developing Healthy Communities, and the North West Community Network.

Lower levels of trust in health scientists & researchers

Nationwide research conducted for the BSA by YouGov found lowered levels of trust in health scientists and researchers as sources of information, compared to previous polling conducted for Wellcome at the start of the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown. Only 64% of UK adults surveyed said they now have complete/a great deal of trust in them, compared to 72% back in April. The percentage who said they trusted them very little or not at all has doubled from 5% to one in ten.

The number of UK adults who said they now had complete trust in Government scientific advisors (12%), The World Health Organisation (17%), the UK Government (4%) and the Prime Minister (4%) as sources of health information had also significantly reduced since the spring of 2020.

Despite this reduced level of trust in national and global sources of information during the pandemic, the research also found significant public interest in local interventions to raise awareness of the latest developments in mental health research and to improve mental wellbeing in their community.

In Northern Ireland, one in three adults (34%) said more community action is needed; and more than half (62%) of those surveyed said they would be interested in taking part in community activity designed to understand and improve mental wellbeing in the area where they live.

About this research:

YouGov omnibus survey of 2,140 adults (aged 18+) on the subject of ‘Mental Wellbeing in the UK’ with mental wellbeing defined as:

“You care about yourself and for yourself. You look after your physical and emotional health – by eating well, sleeping well, exercising, connecting with others and enjoying yourself. You can cope with the stresses of life and can work productively – whether that’s in a job, in education or through chores and hobbies.”

Fieldwork was undertaken between 8-9 December 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). An additional survey of 1,711 UK adults on the subject of trust in sources of information about the Coronavirus.