Perhaps it is not too much of a surprise given what has happened over the last year with the COVID-19 pandemic, but according to a new study carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research for LifeSearch almost half the Scottish population – 44 per cent – is “less happy” now than they were before the pandemic.
Being apart from family and friends (68 per cent) and feelings of isolation (50 per cent) were key reasons Scots were less content.
Three out of four Scottish adults (70 per cent) and young people (72 per cent) stated what makes them truly happy – freedoms to go where they please and see friends – had changed in the last 12 months.
When it comes to mental health, LifeSearch found far more Scottish adults – 41 per cent – say it has got worse rather than better over the course of the last year, rising to 47 per cent of women and 52 per cent of young people.
LifeSearch also found only 14 per cent of all adults in the UK have worked to improve their well being in the last year and only 9 per cent have sought professional counselling.
Falkirk District Association for Mental Health (FDAMH) is an independent mental health charity – celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – which supports people to help them recover from mental ill health or prevent deterioration in mental well being.
The LifeSearch survey highlights what the team at FDAMH already know, that the pandemic has been a very difficult time for people from all walks of life and has had an impact on their mental health.
Ian Dickson, FDAMH chief executive, said: “The report reflects the significant variations in relation to how people’s well being has been impacted by the pandemic. For some, working from home has enabled them to have a better work/life balance and spend more time at home balancing their family commitments.
"For others, it has proven to be a very lonely experience, not getting the social interaction and variety that they need. We anticipate further challenges for many in the coming months, as we move towards a greater level of ‘normality’ after a sustained period with restricted opportunities.
"While this is a very positive period for many, it is likely some people will become increasingly anxious about the prospect of interacting more with others and re-joining their workplace, school and wider community.
"FDAMH is here to help the Falkirk community deal with whatever lies ahead and will offer our support as and when needed.”
Emma Walker, LifeSearch chief marketing officer, added: “The last year has been like no other and it’s no surprise to see the downward pressure on measures of health, wealth and happiness.
"It’s also true to say that we found a tale of two halves, some were able to use the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect and make some positive change in their life from saving more money, exercising more or changing diet, while others have suffered in ways that have tested the fragility of our existence.”