NEWS5 May 2020

Half of British adults facing increased anxiety, ONS finds

Covid-19 News Trends UK

UK – Half of Britain’s adult population are experiencing high levels of anxiety during the current pandemic, according to research from the Office for National Statistics.


An online survey of 1,588 adults found that 49.6% reported ‘high’ levels of anxiety between 20th-30th March, when lockdown measures were put in place due to Covid-19. This equates to around 25 million people, according to the ONS.

Anxiety levels were at 5.18 out of 10 on average between 20th-30th March and remained at similar levels up until 13th April, the ONS found.

In comparison, anxiety levels in the last three months of 2019 were 2.97 out of 10.

But anxiety dropped to 4.2 out of 10 between 9th-20th April 2020, the latest ONS findings show.

The average happiness rating was 6.36 between 20th-30th March, ONS found, whereas it was 7.52 in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Women had higher levels of anxiety than men during the first couple of weeks of April, the ONS concluded.

The survey also found that 20.7% of people reported low levels of happiness and feeling life was worthwhile, compared with 8.4% between October to December 2019.

People who felt they would be unable to save any more money in the next year were a third more likely to have higher anxiety than those who felt better-off financially.

Around 8.6 million people have lost income during the pandemic, according to ONS estimates.

Losing income due to Covid-19 meant that those affected were also 16% more likely to have higher levels of anxiety than people who had not lost any income so far.

Lucy Tinkler, head of ONS quality of life team, said: “All measures of personal wellbeing, which include anxiety and happiness, are at their worst levels since we began collecting data in 2011.

“This was particularly the case for those who have already been financially affected, as well as those renting and the self-employed. The most recent data showed a slight improvement in anxiety compared to previous weeks, but remained much higher than before the pandemic.”