More than seven million Britons are living with anxiety problems, almost a million more than a decade ago, a report reveals.
Two in three say the financial downturn has caused them to be anxious, fuelled by 24-hour news and ‘worst case’ images used by politicians.
Mental health experts believe that fear and anxiety could actually make the economic crisis worse and result in a longer recession.
Knife crime, MRSA, bird flu and terrorism are among other issues contributing to a ‘culture of fear’, says a report from the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) charity.
Even measures to tackle crime such as CCTV cameras may be counter-productive because they intensify fears.
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The report, In the Face of Fear, calls for a campaign to cut ‘institutionally-driven fear’ and raise awareness of mental health problems.
It says: ‘The more fearful people feel in the general population, the more will be tipped over into diagnosable anxiety disorders.’
A poll of 2,246 adults for the MHF report found 77 per cent believed the world had become a more frightening place in the last ten years.
Asked specifically about the economic crisis, 49 per cent said they were anxious about money, with 66 per cent experiencing fear or anxiety about the current economic situation.