the guardian, 19 June 2013

Office for National Statistics says highest incidence of mild mental illness is in 50-54 age group and among women


The ONS says a higher proportion of women than men reported suffering from anxiety or depression. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression, according to the latest official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said a higher proportion of women than men reported that they suffered from the conditions, with the highest indication of anxiety or depression occurring in the 50-54 age group.

There was evidence of anxiety or depression in 19% of people aged 16 or over, with 21% of women reporting the symptoms and 16% of men.

People who were divorced or separated were more likely to have symptoms of mild to moderate mental ill health, with 27% showing signs of the conditions compared with 20% of those who were single, cohabiting or widowed and 16% of those who were married or in a civil partnership.

Higher levels were also recorded by those who were not in paid work – 23% reported they were experiencing mental health issues, compared with 15% of those in paid work.

The ONS also revealed that 38% of those who said they were relatively unhappy with their health had some indication of anxiety or depression, compared with 11% of those who declared themselves to be relatively satisfied with their health.

Carers were more likely to report mild to moderate mental health issues, at a rate of 25% of those questioned, compared with 17% of people who did not provide such care.

The study is part of the ONS Measuring National Wellbeing programme, which surveyed 40,000 households between 2010 and 2011. The figures released on Wednesday come from the general health questionnaire, which asked 12 questions about respondents‘ levels of self-confidence, stress, depression and self-worth.

The ONS said the types of mental illness recorded on the questionnaire did not include severe mental disorders.

The latest figures released as part of the wellbeing study also showed that 66% of people in the UK were satisfied with their health. In those aged 80 or older, satisfaction with health fell to 53%.