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The Big 2021 Reset is Paused but the Bounce Back Will Be Big



Harriet Woolley, research manager at Walnut UNLIMITED considers the latest data that shows UK mental health is at its lowest in the past three years

The Big 2021 Reset is Paused but the Bounce Back Will Be Big
Most people will already feel the impact lockdown has had on their moods with ongoing rhetoric from both the media and the government continuously driving messages that the light at the end of the tunnel is looking increasingly further away from our grasp. Bans on travel have now been imposed and ongoing conversations around the death toll and pressure on the NHS is still at an all-time high. So it may come as no surprise that January 2021 tracked at an all-time low for Brits’ positivity towards their mental health. 
In the latest research, it has shown that the UK’s mental health has tracked at its lowest ever level according to a three-year consumer behaviour study called Understanding the Nation. Positivity towards life in general also fell to an all-time low with only 22% saying they feel positive this January as we continue to battle the uncertainty of the pandemic, Brexit and what it will mean for the future of Britain. To put this into context, this time last year 42% felt more positive. 
The great January reset many had hoped for seems to have vanished this year as the nation continued to brush off the scenes that typified 2020. As a result, the rise in emotions like uncertainty, worry and sadness tracked to an almost identical high as the first national lockdown in April. Nearly half of UK adults are feeling uncertain In January (48%).
Despite exercise normally being offered as the answer to combat these feelings the study shows that positivity towards one’s own physical health also fell to 30%, down from 34% In December 2020. 

Bearing the Brunt

Unfortunately women are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with more women having to make the hard decision to leave the workforce at levels not seen since the ‘80s. Only 18% of women in Britain claim to feel positive about life in general compared to 25% of men, as many women juggle longer hours, increased pressure and childcare responsibilities (compared to two years ago), this difference between men and women was not as pronounced.
Gen X or “the sandwich generation” have also taken the hit when it comes to their current state of happiness with only 18% in the 45-64 age group feeling positive. This could be due to the climate in which they’ve had to work through e.g., 2008 financial crash or that they are likely to be responsible for both their children and their own parents. 

The Circle of Life

All is not lost. Perhaps the new generation is the beacon of light adults need. The inauguration of Joe Biden gave platform to the youngest poet in history to perform at such an esteemed event, our conversation around Climate Change has been shifted thanks to the words of Greta Thunberg and activism across social media has given us a renewed sense of hope, unity and poignancy. Could this be the reason behind adults with children feeling more positive about what’s to come (27%)?
Additionally, it’s over 75s who tracked as the most content of all ages. Has the renewed moment to pause given them a chance to engage in society at a pace they feel more comfortable with? Data has seen a huge rise in this category finally getting online and the drive for this change, mostly to connect to their loved ones.
With people attempting to navigate the new normal, our research shows the startling impact this it’s having on our mental health, but with this same data we can leverage it to truly understand how to provide solutions. Understanding how we got there and what we can do to make it better is crucial in a role of communication - let’s hope together we can create work that lifts morale and sees that aftershock of 2020 start to subside as 2021 continues. Once the lockdown floodgates are open there looks to be a new resurgence of positivity as we are able to socialise, entertain and experience real life interactions with our loved ones once again.

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UNLIMITED, Fri, 29 Jan 2021 14:14:03 GMT