One in four people in England will have a mental health problem of some kind each year, and one in six say they experience a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, each week, says charity Mind.
And since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, another, quieter pandemic has spread across the UK. A third of adults say their mental health has deteriorated over this period: anxiety and depression have increased, and one in nine young people told Mind that loneliness has affected their mental well-being thanks to lockdown.
The World Health Organization reports that the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25 percent in the first year of the pandemic.
A year after lockdown rules were eased, what problems do we have and what questions do we want answered?I asks therapists from across the UK the most common questions they hear.
“Why am I so unhappy being single?”
Simone Bose from London is a relationship consultant at Relate. About 10 percent of her clients deal with infidelity in their relationships and she helps them solve this problem.
However, she also sees many singles feeling disillusioned — a survey released by Relate in September found many people in their 20s and 30s are feeling milestone anxiety — worries about not having a partner, not having kids, or not having bought a house.
“I get a lot of single people who get frustrated and have low self-esteem when they date,” says Bose I. “They want to build their confidence and feel better about themselves. So some people don’t even bother to meet someone, they just want to feel good and be comfortable with that identity as an individual.”
Single or not, there is a unifying theme between Bose customers. “Often the root of all these problems is a lack of intimacy,” she says. “Because my patient may be too busy or too stressed or things in their life are taking control and they can’t be as vulnerable as they could be [with another person].”
“Why don’t I feel better yet?”
A common concern when seeing a therapist is the speed of “recovery.” Jackie Rogers, an accredited BACP therapist in Burton-upon-Trent. said, “Many patients ask after two or three sessions why they don’t feel noticeably better.”
You want to have a definitive schedule. However, “getting well” varies from person to person and depends on each person’s support network, self-compassion and self-care,” she says I. “As a society, we want to run before we can walk and have no patience with ourselves.
“We look for quick fixes, and when we don’t get the quick fix, we feel like we’re doing something wrong or that we’ve failed in some way.”
“What’s wrong with me? Everyone else is fine”
We often hear about the comparison culture fueled in particular by the proliferation of “highlight reels” on social media, but Rogers says one of the most common questions she hears is why other people are doing better than us — particularly People who do worry that they are significantly different from their friends and family.
“When we start struggling in life, we can perceive other people as ‘coping’ or ‘managing’,” says Rogers. “When we’re struggling, we look inward and start blaming ourselves or seeing others as better than us, which makes us very self-critical.”
But people are dealing with a lot of real problems, and we need to have compassion for ourselves, she adds. “Many people deal with so much loss and loss, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a job reorganization, burnout, losing a job, or the end of a relationship.
“These events are stressful enough on their own – but when you factor in the last two to three years of life through the pandemic and the uncertainty of the future, these issues can become more overwhelming and seem unmanageable.”
“Why don’t I recognize who I am?”
Denise Freeman, a Registered Therapist based in Manchester, says she sees many people in transition and has noticed an increase in the number of women seeking help as a result of menopause. “These women who come to me usually don’t know that menopause is causing their problems,” she says.
Symptoms of menopause can include brain fog, anxiety, and mood swings. “It can really impact jobs and relationships. Women usually come up to me and say why don’t I recognize who I am anymore? Or should I leave my partner?” says Freimann.
“But when we examine these feelings, it’s often related to the hormonal changes of menopause. I have seen such an increase. I think because as a society we are becoming more aware of the negative effects that menopause can have.”
“Should I quit my job?”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, since lockdown, Nicola Saunders, a Derby-based therapist, has noticed a rise in work-related anxiety. “Today, many of my patients ask me, why do I have to go back to the office?” says Saunders.
“As people started working from home, they got used to just being themselves,” says Saunders. “They have become accustomed to not having to wear a professional mask for several years, whether through their makeup or their demeanor. They didn’t have to perform. Now people have to re-emerge by going back to the office and that causes a lot of anxiety.”
Freeman agrees that the workplace and the return to expectations surrounding presenteeism in the office are causing a lot of stress for her clients right now: “A lot of my clients suffer from stress because they used to be able to better balance their lives.
“They have become accustomed to working from home but are now being asked to go back and are being given less flexibility. Now many of my clients are asking me if they should quit their job.”