People in Preston among the happiest in UK

People in Preston are among the least anxious in the UK, a new survey by the Office for National Statistics shows.

The ONS carries out research every year to gauge the personal well-being of citizens across the nation.

It includes asking respondents aged 16 or over to rate their level of anxiety over a given day, with zero representing “not at all anxious” and 10 “completely anxious”.

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The average score for people in Preston in 2018-19 was 2.35 – among the lowest of any area.

Across the UK, the average score was 2.87, while the figure across the North West stood at 2.78.

Anxiety scores have fallen across the UK since the survey began in 2011-12, when it was 3.13.

People were also asked to rank their happiness, life satisfaction and sense of the things they do in life being worthwhile on a scale from zero to 10, with 10 being the highest.

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The average happiness score in Preston was 7.77, a slight rise on the previous year.

This reflected the trend across the UK, where the happiness score hit 7.56 – a record high.

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said the rise in happiness scores and drop in those for anxiety could mean people are investing more in looking after their mental health.

“However, it’s important that we do not conflate improved well-being with a reduction in people experiencing a mental illness,” he added.

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“For every person that’s reportedly feeling less anxious, there is another that’s just been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, with many struggling to get the care and treatment they need.

“As a charity we’re still seeing plenty of people seeking help from our services, support groups and advice line, and it’s clear that there’s plenty of work left to do.”

A spokeswoman for mental health charity Mind cautioned that well-being levels can vary around the country, and can be affected by different factors.

“Poverty, isolation, housing and access to green spaces, for example, can all affect our mental health,” she added.

“While life events such as job losses, which might happen to many people in one community at a time, can also play a part.”