Searches For Mental Health Support At Lowest Since Peak Of First Wave
The pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s mental health, but in the wake of things slowly returning to normal, searches for mental health support are at their lowest since the beginning of the outbreak.
The UK first went into lockdown at the end of March 2020 – an experience people of all generations struggled to deal with. Schools closed their doors, employers sent their teams to work from home, and all social events were cancelled.
Young people in particular were badly affected, with four million 13 to 19-year-olds having said they experienced poor mental health as a result of the pandemic.
While people were able to access support throughout the pandemic, COVID changed the way mental health support was offered as all counselling sessions were then conducted virtually. This was later found to have worsened the mental health of a quarter of those who chose to access virtual support.
However, after an undeniably difficult 12 months, mental health appears to be improving among many people. This has been shown through Champion Health’s most recent data, which found online searches for mental health help are now at their lowest since April 2020.
When measured against April 2021, 38% fewer people are looking for an anxiety helpline. This could be down to the fact April marked the point when people were able to socialise outdoors with one another for the first time in months, therefore potentially causing a boost in mental wellbeing.
Champion Health broke down their data into mental health support keywords and phrases such as ‘anxiety helpline’, ‘anxiety advice’, ‘ways to cope with anxiety’, and ‘how to cope with anxiety’.
The employee wellbeing platform also looked at depression-related searches, which were at their highest in June 2020 and January 2021. The findings come after the Official for National Statistics (ONS) found January of this year was the saddest on record.
However, April saw a 33% decrease in searches for a ‘depression helpline’ month-on-month, in addition to a 25% decrease for depression-related phrases overall.
Champion Health has since set its wellbeing warning barometer at ‘low’, meaning, off the back of its most recent data, there were no major concerns for people’s mental wellbeing last month.
Explaining how its barometer works, the organisation wrote, ‘By looking at the number of people searching online for wellbeing-related keywords, the experts at Champion Health can detect whether there is an increase/decrease in demand for wellbeing support in the UK.’
‘Each month, we draw the data from Search Trends and use this to view year-on-year and month-on-month changes for specific keywords. We have chosen a number of specific wellbeing related keywords that help shine a light on the wellbeing of people in the UK,’ it further explained.
Noting its more optimistic findings, co-founder and CEO of Champion Health, Harry Bliss, commented on the notion that while this is positive news, a lot of people are still struggling.
Although this data suggests that there is some room for optimism about the state of the UK’s mental health, it doesn’t take away from the fact that many people are still struggling and need support compared to pre-pandemic levels.
‘Employers in particular can play a huge role in spotting the signs of poor mental health and acting on this with data-driven initiatives,’ Harry added.
While we’ve still got a way to go before things go back to normal, it’s great to see people’s mental health slowly but surely improving.
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If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
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