The Guardian view on trying times: of course unhappiness has risen | Editorial
It is no surprise that anxiety is increasing, nor that it is distributed unequally. More money for mental health services is needed
It is 10 years since the UK government began to measure happiness. As part of its annual population survey, the official statistics body now asks interviewees questions about their satisfaction, mood and sense of life being “worthwhile”. Not surprisingly, given present circumstances, the news at the moment is not good. While there isn’t a full decade’s worth of data yet, the most recent findings were on the gloomy side: measures of personal wellbeing significantly worsened in 2020, while anxiety reached record highs.
In a pandemic, what would you expect? Not joy, for sure. But Covid is far from the only shadow looming over us. The climate emergency and declining living standards are the most obvious reasons for pessimism. Many younger people, in particular, are filled with fears about a future that older people may never see, while millions face an increasingly difficult struggle to secure the basics of life (housing, food, health). Citizens Advice has warned that the upcoming £20 a week cut to universal credit could drive 2.3 million people into debt.