The mental wellbeing of the Scottish population has hit a worrying low, according to the latest Scottish Health Survey. Data collected since 2008 shows that the average score on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) has dropped from 50 to 47 in 2022. The most deprived 20% of the population reported the lowest mental wellbeing, with an average score of 44.7. The survey also revealed a rise in self-harming and suicide attempts among adults, as well as an increase in feelings of loneliness, particularly among younger adults. Additionally, depression and anxiety symptoms were found to be more prevalent among adults.
Smoking rates in Scotland have seen a slight increase, with 15% of adults now smokers compared to 11% in 2021. However, there has been an overall decline since 2008 when the smoking rate stood at 28%. Smoking rates were higher among individuals in the most deprived areas, with 25% of them being smokers. Vaping has also become more popular, with 10% of adults reporting the use of vaping devices. The highest usage was observed among the 16-24 age group, with 15% using vaping devices. Harmful drinking levels have decreased over the years, but remain more prevalent in the least deprived areas.
Chronic pain is a significant issue in Scotland, affecting more than a third of adults. Women are 10% more likely to experience chronic pain, and its prevalence increases with age. The most deprived areas have higher rates of chronic pain compared to the least deprived areas. Chronic pain significantly limits the lives and work of nearly four-fifths of adults experiencing it. In addition, 6% of children reported experiencing chronic pain for three months or more.
The survey also revealed an increase in the number of adults with long-term health conditions, rising by 7% since 2008. Nearly half of all adults now have some form of chronic condition, with women being more affected than men. Cardiovascular disease has remained steady at around one in six adults since 2003. A notable finding is that 13% of adults reported experiencing long Covid in 2022, while the figure for children aged 0-15 was 4%. On a positive note, the majority of adults have 20 or more natural teeth, with only 6% having no natural teeth.
Overall, the Scottish Health Survey provides crucial insights into the mental health challenges, smoking and vaping habits, chronic pain prevalence, and the increasing burden of long-term health conditions in Scotland. These findings will inform public health initiatives and interventions aimed at improving the wellbeing of the population.