UK areas with most improved rates of happiness, anxiety and life satisfaction revealed

ONS wellbeing report improved anxiety. (Getty Images)
Anxiety and other measures of wellbeing have improved since last year's records. (Getty Images)

Average ratings for 'anxiety' (0.18 point decrease), 'life satisfaction' (0.15 increase), and 'happiness' (0.13 increase) have shown the largest improvements since ONS personal wellbeing records began.

This follows the biggest deterioration in all wellbeing scores in the year ending March 2021 during the pandemic.

But while average ratings measured out of 10 for personal wellbeing in the UK have improved across all indicators of mental health (also including 'feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile') in the year ending March 2022, they still remain below pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels (year ending March 2019).

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Woman looking out of window in pandemic. (Getty Images)
While the new data shows improvements, the nation’s wellbeing is still not back to where it was before the pandemic. (Getty Images)

But positively, in every country and region of the UK, ratings have improved or remained unchanged in the latest ONS report compared with the previous year.

While across the UK overall life satisfaction (now 7.54 out of 10), happiness (now 7.45), and anxiety (3.12) were the largest year-on-year improvements we've seen since it started measuring wellbeing in the year ending March 2012, the increase for 'feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile' (now 7.77, but only improved by 0.06%) was not as large as seen in other years (notably 2015).

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The market town of Richmond is sited at the very edge of the North Yorkshire Dales, on the banks of River Swale
Yorkshire and The Humber fared well in the ONS' latest personal wellbeing report. (Getty Images)

Specifically, the largest improvement for life satisfaction (0.16 increase) was in England, from 7.38 in the previous year to 7.55 in the latest. Meanwhile, the average rating increased by 0.15 in Northern Ireland (from 7.54 to 7.69) and 0.11 in Wales (7.37 to 7.48). But average ratings in Scotland weren't significant enough to note a shift.

Average ratings for 'feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile' increased by 0.07 points in England (7.71 to 7.78), while there were no significant changes for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Ratings for happiness increased for England by 0.14 (7.31 to 7.45) and Wales by 0.12 (7.31 to 7.43), with no major differences in other UK countries.

And lastly, anxiety decreased across all four countries compared with the previous year, with the largest decrease (0.26) in Northern Ireland (3.11 to 2.84).

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Photo taken in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Getty Images)
The largest decrease in anxiety was in Northern Ireland. (Getty Images)

At a regional level, the largest (0.25 increase) improvement in life satisfaction rating was in Yorkshire and The Humber. This area also showed statistically significant improvements for feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile, as well as the South East.

The North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, West Midlands, East of England, and South East regions saw notable improvements in average happiness ratings compared to the previous year.

Plus, improvements in anxiety were seen across all regions of the UK, although this wasn't statistically significant in the East Midlands, London and South East.

“Today’s data shows an improving picture in our personal wellbeing for the year ending March 2022, following a decline seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," says Tim Vizard from the ONS.

But, he reinforces, "While today’s estimates show improvements across the whole UK, the nation’s wellbeing is still not back to where it was before the pandemic.”

So, while it should be celebrated that mental health is starting to pick up again following years of lockdowns, restrictions and illness, we still have a way to go.

You can look at your local area's personal wellbeing score using the interactive tools in figures six and seven on this ONS website page.

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