NEARLY half of Bolton residents who took part in a huge local survey said they were experiencing ‘high levels of anxiety’.

‘Bolton’s Big Wellbeing Conversation’ saw more than 1,500 people respond and the headline findings have been published by Bolton Council.

Key findings show that of those who responded, 95 per cent said they thought about their mental health from time to time although over a fifth did not talk about it, particularly older residents.

More than 60 per cent claimed to be be ‘quite happy’, finding life ‘reasonably satisfying’ and ‘worthwhile’ but a significant proportion reported fairly high levels of anxiety (48 per cent)

Most people claimed to stay well through non-medical interventions such as through friends and family, the outdoors, and time out to relax although 40 per cent of respondents reported not knowing how they could improve their mental health

The single biggest factor associated with poor mental wellbeing was family or relationship worries followed by tiredness, money worries, health concerns and work.

Most people knew that mental health can be defined differently, and acknowledged the role of personal responsibility in finding balance and being able to cope with life’s challenges.

The findings were published in a council report ‘Population Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention Programme update’.

The council was given £370,000 for a one-year Covid-19 mental health recovery programme via a national government initiative intended to mitigate the immediate impact of the pandemic

This was funded via Public Health England.

The report, said: “It is important to highlight that the pandemic has caused direct and indirect widespread psychological and social effects which have adversely impacted on the mental health and wellbeing

of our residents and workforce, now and in the future..

“While the start of our programme has been delayed because of the pandemic, progress has been made to mobilize this work as a priority.

“A selection of evidence-based interventions has been developed to mitigate the adverse psychological and social impacts of lockdown and, to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all our residents.”

The report added that In Bolton the estimated prevalence of common mental health disorder in those aged 16 and over is 18.9 per cent compared to 16.9 per cent for England and Bolton has also a higher proportion of patients with severe mental illness than England.

Prior to the pandemic levels of wellbeing in Bolton were improving at a locality level, however the pandemic has resulted in an increase in demand for mental health support.

The full report on the 1,556 responses from Bolton’s Big Wellbeing Conversation will be published later in December,