TODAY supposedly marks the unhappiest day of the year, however for some people depression, stress and anxiety is an every day battle. New research by the Priory Group has found that people in the UK are making an online search for the word ‘depression’ 27 times a minute – this equates to someone googling the term every two seconds. The statistics also found that the word ‘stress’ is searched for 22 times a minute and ‘anxiety’ is typed into the search engine 21 times a minute. These findings offer an insight into the mental health of the nation, following Office for National Statistics’ figures which show that more than 15 million working days per year are lost in sickness absence to stress, depression and anxiety.
An average 1,171,770 searches are made in the UK every month around ‘depression’, 939,820 around ‘stress’ and 907,620 around ‘anxiety’. In an average month during 2014, 49,500 searches were made by people wanting to take a test to see whether they were depressed. Dr Jeanette Downie, deputy medical director and consultant psychiatrist at Priory Hospital, Glasgow said the number of people searching for mental health diagnoses online highlighted, in part, the stigma around mental health, which leads people to turn to the internet rather than seek confidential, personalised face-to-face help from an expert.
“The continued stigma around mental health encourages people to use the non-judgemental search bar of Google. “I see some highly successful people who are terrified of others finding out that they are depressed or stressed, and feel they have absolutely ‘failed’ by being ill. “They often wait until they are really unwell before they come to the Priory for help.”
She said there was a fear of publicly acknowledging a mental health problem, especially in the workplace, yet “people simply wouldn’t feel the same concern when telling friends or colleagues about a physical illness, like a heart condition”.
This article first appeared The Express, 19 January 2015.