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UK ranked second-most miserable country in the world

The average Briton is less happy than someone from Yemen or Ukraine, a new survey has found

The UK has been named the second-most unhappy country in the world in a survey conducted by Sapien Labs, a neuroscience foundation. According to the survey, Britons’ mental health has plunged since the coronavirus pandemic, with “no sign of recovery.”

Published last week, Sapien Labs’ fourth annual ‘Mental State of the World’ report painted a grim picture of the English-speaking world. Out of 71 countries surveyed, the Anglophone nations of the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand sit in the bottom quartile, with residents of the UK happier only than those of Uzbekistan.

The survey ranks the UK eight places behind Yemen and 12 places behind Ukraine in terms of its population’s overall mental health. Some 35% of Britons told Sapine Labs that they were either “distressed or struggling,” a figure down by only 0.7% since last year, when Britain came in last place in the rankings.

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To determine each nation’s overall mental health, the foundation asked individuals 47 questions about their “mood and outlook,” “social self,” “drive and motivation,” and “adaptability and resilience,” among other categories. While Sapien Labs noted that answers to these questions are inherently subjective, other reports have come to similar conclusions.

Amid a historic decline in living standards, the UK’s Office of National Statistics found in November that Britons experienced a drop in happiness and personal satisfaction in the year ending last March. According to a report published in The Lancet medical journal last month, some 1.8 million people in the UK are currently awaiting mental health treatment.

Sapien Labs noted that levels of mental well-being across the English-speaking world plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic, and that this decline “continues to persist with no sign of recovery.” 

Furthermore, the report found that mental well-being was lower in countries where processed food was commonly eaten, children were given smartphones at a younger age, and relations between family members were more distant. Wealthy, English-speaking countries scored least favorably across all of these three metrics.

The Dominican Republic topped the list as the world’s happiest country, followed by Sri Lanka in second place and Tanzania in third. All of the top ten countries were African, Asian, or Latin American nations.

“This pattern suggests that greater wealth and economic development do not necessarily lead to greater mental well-being,” Sapien Labs wrote in the report.

 

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