New report uncovers our biggest worries and how we’re seeking help

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New report uncovers our biggest worries and how we’re seeking help

Can a relationship survive without intimacy and could you be stressed without realising it are just two of the biggest worries on our minds, according to the latest findings from Happiful

A new report released today sheds light on some of the most commonly searched for worries over the past five years. Focusing on how we can make private mental health and wellbeing support more accessible, the report conducted by the Happiful family of directories, highlights how mental health and wellbeing support have changed in recent years.

Identifying some of the most common mental health, illness and wellbeing concerns, the report shares further insight into the demographics seeking support and help, what causes individuals to reach out for professional help, and how the industry could make mental health and wellbeing support more accessible for everyone.

What are our biggest worries?

With a combined 35.3 million users accessing the Happiful family of directories over the past five years, their latest report gives a unique insight into how people are accessing private mental health and wellbeing support.

Figures reveal that over a quarter of a million people have asked: Can a relationship survive without intimacy? Therapists from Counselling Directory saw a concerning 1,061% increase in clients seeking advice on whether their relationships could survive without intimacy since the onset of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Life Coach Directory saw over 15,000 people asking: Could I be stressed without knowing it? – seeing a 372% increase in searches in 2020, and 38% in 2021.

Who’s searching for mental health and wellbeing support?

Five out of six of Happiful’s platforms have seen an increase in men seeking information and support. This included a 10% increase in men accessing nutrition information through Nutritionist Resource, 7% more accessing Counselling Directory, 6% on Therapy Directory, and 5% on Hypnotherapy Directory. Men seeking professional or personal coaching advice and support through Life Coach Directory saw a 1% increase between 2017 to 2021.

Just 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are men. 28% of men have admitted to not seeking medical help when experiencing mental health problems, compared to 19% of women. While a third of women will disclose problems with their mental health to a friend or loved one within a month of experiencing difficulties, just one in four men do the same.

These new figures suggest that we may be beginning to see a shift towards more men feeling ready and able to reach out and seek help when they are feeling vulnerable.

A young man sits alone in a classroom, looking at his laptop.
Photo by Mars on Unsplash

How are people accessing support for ill mental health?

It’s no surprise that, since the pandemic, more and more of us have sought digital alternatives across many different areas of our lives. According to data from Counselling Directory, it would seem that this trend looks set to continue.

The number of therapists offering telephone and online support through the directory has risen significantly from 11,500 in March 2020 as pandemic lockdowns began, rising to 17,600 as of February 2022. Despite many expressing a desire to go ‘back to normal’, these figures would suggest an ongoing demand for remote mental health and wellbeing support.

The rise in counsellors and other wellbeing professionals offering digital alternatives to in-person sessions opens up the possibilities for many more people to access services and specialists they may not otherwise have been able to visit, due to geographical locations, disabilities, or even time constraints.

While some experts still express concern that online therapy may not be as effective as face to face sessions, there is mounting evidence to suggest that the outcome of online therapy is at least equal to the effects of traditional counselling.

Although there has been an increase in therapists offering online support, a significant number of individuals are searching for professional support near them. Nearly half (44%) of the top search queries leading users to Therapy Directory were for specific alternative or holistic therapies near them, while almost a third (32%) leading to Counselling Directory were from individuals seeking a counsellor or therapist near them, and nearly a quarter (24%) sought hypnotherapy, hypnosis, or hypnotherapists near them leading to Hypnotherapy Directory.

Tipping point: What is prompting us to seek help?

Taking that first step to reach out and seek professional help can feel impossibly tough. But what reasons finally prompt some people to speak up and contact a professional? Counselling Directory member, Shelly Treacher, sees clients reaching out to her for a number of different reasons – often expressing a desire to be ‘fixed’ through therapy.

“Reasons for coming to therapy may include just wanting to talk, desiring strategies, requiring challenge, wishing for accountability, or some may want to be told what to do. But, many feel they don’t know what they need, they just hope that someone can help with the stress of their lives.

“Frequently, I find that people are prompted to attend because they are experiencing a strain in a primary relationship, which they fear losing. Or they have reached a crisis point that pushes them over the edge of being able to cope alone.

“Untold people seek therapy in order to be ‘fixed’ for being ‘faulty’. Feeling bad about themselves is regularly what clients have in common. They end up realising that the thing that needs to change is the prominence of their self-critic. Countless people find out that therapy is about finding your own authority, creating boundaries, and understanding yourself. Rarely do people explicitly come for these reasons, but these end up being the greatest reasons to come, above all.”

Counselling Directory member Anthony Purnell says that how we are taught to ‘get on with’ things in the UK could be having a negative impact on how long it takes us to reach out.

“In the UK context, we are taught to just get on with things and not make a fuss. In order to live up to this idea, people can put off dealing with issues until they reach crisis point; in a sense, the individual is being motivated by sheer desperation. In this time of crisis, counselling could be seen as their only choice, even though, arguably, it should have been the first choice.”

“In this time of crisis, counselling could be seen as their only choice, even though, arguably, it should have been the first choice.”

How can we make mental health and wellbeing support more accessible?

Amongst the key areas of improvement raised, the report highlighted:

  • The importance of ensuring both online and in-person support options are available.
  • The need for continued awareness around specific, common mental health and general wellbeing concerns (such as symptoms of stress, worried about weight loss and gain, and relationship issues).
  • Encouraging a ‘whole person’ approach to health and wellbeing through placing equal emphasis on the range of different options of care and support available.
  • Ensuring pricing for private care is easy to access and understand, whilst making sure other avenues of finding support such as helplines and support groups are clearly signposted.

For more information and to access your free copy of the report, visit: Happiful’s 5 year report.


International day of happiness: Celebrating five years of Happiful Magazine

This Sunday 20th March is International day of happiness. Marking five years since the launch of Happiful Magazine, to celebrate, the Happiful family conducted research into how we can make private mental health and wellbeing support more accessible. The Happiful family includes a number of directories as well as a mental health and wellbeing-focused podcast and magazine:

Happiful Magazine first launched on 20 March 2017. Helping people find the help they need, Happiful is on a mission to create a healthier, happier, more sustainable world. The Happiful family’s original site, Counselling Directory, was established in 2005 by sisters Aimi and Emma. Since 2017, the Happiful family has helped more than 5.5 million people connect with professional mental health and wellbeing providers, including counsellors, therapists, nutritionists, hypnotherapists, coaches, and holistic practitioners.


If you are struggling with your mental health or feel like you need to talk to someone, working with a counsellor or therapist could help. Enter your postcode in the search below to find an online or in-person professional near you.

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