In the current age, awareness around mental health problems is rising, with the population having a greater understanding of the complex nature of the brain and issues that can occur due to this intricate network that governs who we are. There’s a constant battle to fight the stigma associated with mental health disorders and to allow ourselves to realise when we may need help rather than fighting solo.

Mental health is an important public health issue with around one in four in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year. Depression and anxiety can be contributed to by a variety of limitless factors, whether it’s neurochemical, genetic, a result of environmental factors like a traumatic experience or financial worry, or regional — where we live, the socio-economic status, and mental health funding can also have an influence.

The internet is full of information which can provide us with the education we need. For example, the NHS’s mood self-assessment can be useful to understand how we’re feeling and if there might be any issues at play.

Here, we explored Google average yearly searches of phrases like ‘Am I depressed?’ and ‘Do I have anxiety?’ as well as variants we thought would likely be searched to find out which areas in the UK are self-diagnosing the most with depression and anxiety. This will give us insight into which regions may be the most depressed and anxious.

9.2% of Manchester is self-diagnosing depression and anxiety

According to our research, the areas that had the highest annual searches were London with 476,280 searches (5.3% of the population), Birmingham with 84,240 searches (7.8% of the population), Glasgow with 49,920 searches (8.3% of the population), Bristol with 47,400 searches (8.8% of the population), and Manchester with 46,800 searches (9.2% of the population).

Research has reported that Stockport in Greater Manchester has one of the highest rates of prevalence in the UK — 23.6% compared with a national average of 9.8% — so it isn’t surprising to see this city so high up on the list.

University cities have the highest per cent of population self-diagnosing

However, when we looked at the largest percentage of average yearly searches relative to the proportion, statistics revealed that 12.4% of Canterbury (5,400 searches), 10.7% of Cambridge (13,200 searches), 9.7% of Norwich (12,840 searches), and 9.4% of Oxford (14,520 searches) were attempting to self-diagnose depression and anxiety.

The Guardian has reported that the most depressed neighbourhoods in England are all in the North and Midlands, with almost a quarter seeking help at GP surgeries. However, from Google data, it seems that university cities are experiencing more depression and anxiety in the country, with elite university such as Cambridge and Oxford top the list.

A third of students have been reported to drop out of university for mental health reasons. The findings from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that a record figure of 1,180 students left courses early in the 2014–15 academic year citing mental health issues, a 210% increase on 380 students in 2009–10.

Never be ashamed of seeking help

Being human can be difficult — after all, our brain is a complex network where many components may work differently. For many, the severity of their mental health problems is being enhanced by the pandemic, including serious changes in moods, belief systems, and hallucinations.

If you find that your symptoms have worsened or developed, it’s important to seek help. Don’t give in to the stigma perpetuated of mental health — Natasha Tracy, a mental health writer and recipient of the 2014 Erasing the Stigma Leadership Award by Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, said the toughest stigma to beat is the one that “looks back at us in the mirror.”

Seeking help starts with ourselves, and although we might not always understand what’s going on in our minds with our emotions and thoughts, visiting our GP can unravel the confusion and allow us to regain control. Remember — pursuing treatment can aid in remembering who you are and using your strengths to get back to feeling good. We must create a culture of recovery, spread awareness, and educate others on the false stereotypes of mental health.

Remember to go easy on yourself — we haven’t lived in a time like the present.

How can I help myself?

It can be daunting but contact your GP about how you’re feeling. They can recommend medication, lifestyle changes, therapies, and support to help you cope. Follow this guide to prepare for a doctor’s appointment about mental health.

Additionally, the UK government has invested in digital mental health, seeing mental health providers integrated digitally with other parts of the healthcare system. These apps have enabled models of therapy and online resources, innovating the delivery of healthcare while having a positive impact on society.

Online health care providers like myGP allow patients to book doctor’s appointments online, simplifying healthcare and allowing easy access to other services like ordering prescriptions, accessing medical records, and mental health services and support. With stigma holding many people back from seeking help, research suggests that technology can help improve access to services for these groups.

CityAverage yearly searchesPopulationPercentage
Stoke on Trent15,120256,1725.90%


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