UK leads the way in destigmatising mental health

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Feb 18, 2022

UK leads the way in destigmatising mental health

A new global study has found the UK has seen a huge shift in attitudes towards mental health

In a global study, which analysed the opinions of 11,000 citizens, it has been revealed that the UK is leading the way in the destigmatisation of mental health conditions.

The AXA Mind Health Study found that, despite the fact that it has the highest level of mental ill-health in Europe, the UK’s attitude towards mental health has been transformed by the pandemic, with half of people in the UK believing that stigma is declining as a result of Covid-19, compared to a third of Europeans who believe the same.

The study looked at the current state of ‘mind health’ among 11,000 people in 11 countries and territories across Europe and Asia. Researchers then created a detailed picture of how people did mentally at the height of the pandemic, and beyond, with particular attention spent on looking at how they identified and remedied problems, and significant social shifts that occurred due to the events of the past two years.

Two in five people (37%) were experiencing at least one mental health condition, and 24% were reported as ‘struggling’ – worrying numbers that reveal the breadth of the mental health crisis that has been warned for some time. Simultaneously, nearly half of Brits feel they are better able to acknowledge when they may need support, and 46% reported feeling more compassionate to others now, compared to pre-pandemic.

The research is said to paint a picture of an evolving nation, pointing to the collective experience of the pandemic as the catalyst for a kinder, more accepting attitude. 58% of respondents said that their friendships and relationships have become more meaningful, and 42% of employees now report feeling a stronger connection with colleagues is important for their mental health.

But, while many people may have experienced a shift in their own approaches, the high levels of mental health conditions highlights a need for workplaces to step up support for employees, too – with only 40% of respondents agreeing that their employer provides good support regarding mental health.

“The pandemic has disrupted our social networks and forced us to forge new relationships closer to home,” said Dr Oliver Scott Curry, research director at “Kindness is a great way of making new friends, and the pandemic has offered plenty of opportunities to help others.

“As this study shows, people have taken those opportunities. And consistent with previous research, they have found that helping others is deeply rewarding. As a result, people have come to see their local communities as friendlier places. Hopefully people will take these newfound social skills back with them to work, where mutual support and cooperation is key to a happy and healthy company.”

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