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UK ranks second most miserable globally, research shows.

A recent mental wellbeing report unveils a concerning reality for the United Kingdom, positioning it as one of the least content nations globally, surpassed only by Uzbekistan. This revelation comes amidst the persistent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain of a burgeoning cost-of-living crisis. Ranking a dismal 70th out of 71 countries for overall mental wellbeing, the UK faces an average score of 49, significantly lower than the global average of 65.

Conducted by the US-based Sapien Labs think tank, the study delved into various factors affecting mental wellbeing, including mood, social self, drive, adaptability, cognition, and mind-body connection. Drawing insights from over 500,000 individuals across 71 countries, the research identifies early-age smartphone use, consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs), and a breakdown in interpersonal relationships as key contributors to lower scores in affluent nations.

In the UK, a staggering 35% of respondents express distress or struggle with their mental wellbeing, with young adults and economically challenged families bearing the brunt of this crisis. The report highlights a concerning decline in mental wellbeing among the 18-24 age group since 2020, indicating a tumultuous period marked by economic downturns, an escalating cost-of-living crisis, and a volatile property market.

Further exacerbating the mental wellbeing crisis in the UK are factors such as political instability, fueled by changing leadership and scandals like Partygate. Additionally, the pervasive consumption of ultra-processed foods, constituting a significant portion of diets in the UK and the US, has been linked to significantly poorer mental wellbeing.

While mental wellbeing among over-65s has remained relatively stable, young people, particularly those aged 18-24, exhibit the least improvement since 2020. The report underscores a glaring disparity between wealthier and less affluent nations, with less wealthy countries in Africa and Latin America scoring higher for wellbeing.

The findings underscore the pressing need to comprehend the multifaceted drivers of collective mental wellbeing in the post-pandemic era. Scientists advocate for a deeper understanding to align ambitions with the genuine prosperity of individuals. Utilizing the Mental Health Quotient (MHQ) to assess cognitive and emotional capabilities, the report serves as a crucial call to action to address the complex factors influencing mental health on a global scale.

March 11, 2024 5:21 p.m. 6025

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