Nearly a third of UK adults have sought help from a counsellor or psychotherapist in the past 12 months, according to our annual Public Perceptions Survey1.

Each year we ask more than 5,000 UK adults about experiences of, and attitudes to, therapy and mental health. The survey, carried out by YouGov, also provides a comprehensive look at how people cope with and are affected by issues in their own lives, including the cost of living crisis, work and family.

Our 2024 survey found nearly a third of people (30%) say they’ve had therapy within the past 12 months (rising to 35% in their lifetime) and three quarters of those who’ve had counselling say it was a helpful experience.

Our survey also revealed an increasing number of people don’t see any stigma attached to seeking help from a therapist. 

Lynne Gabriel, BACP President

Experiences and attitudes around counselling

The public's views on mental health and counselling

  • Nearly three quarters of people said their experience of therapy was helpful (73%) and appropriate (72%) for their mental wellbeing
  • Three quarters (75%) agree that talking to a counsellor or therapist about problems would make people happier. This rises to eight out of 10 (82%) for people who’ve had therapy
  • Two thirds of people (65%) say it’s better to talk to someone about your problems rather than take medication
  • Nearly nine in 10 people (88%) think it’s important that counselling is accessible to those who want it
  • Eight in 10 (82%) say that it’s important to find a counsellor on an accredited register
Top five reasons people had counselling in past two years:
  1. Stress/anxiety (68%)
  2. Depression (52%)
  3. Confidence, self-esteem and support (32%)
  4. Trauma and PTSD (26%)
  5. Grief and relationship issues (21% both) 

How therapy is delivered

Growth in online therapy and patient choice

  • A rising number of people say they choose how they’d like their therapy delivered (30% in 2024 compared to 18% in 2020)
  • This is reflected in the growth of online therapy, which now counts for more than one in 10 sessions. Our 2024 survey found 13% of sessions were carried out online, compared to the results of our February 2020 survey which found 1% of sessions had been online

Increased awareness and reduced stigma

Better public awareness and less stigma around counselling and therapy

  • An increasing number of people (72%) say there’s less stigma attached to seeking help from a counsellor (compared to 67% five years ago)
  • More than eight in ten people (85%) say it’s more socially acceptable to discuss the topic of mental health compared to five years ago
  • Nine in 10 people (90%) say mental health has a higher public profile than five years ago
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) of people say they’re more aware of mental health compared to five years ago

State of the nation’s mental health

Lack of hope and worries about debt prevalent

  • Less than half of people (45%) feel optimistic about the future
  • Three quarters of people (75%) say their mental health is negatively affected by the state of the UK economy, including a rise in concerns about the state of health and education services (from 65% in 2020 to 72%)
  • More than half of people (52%) say their mental health suffers due to worrying about debt
  • Worries about climate change negatively affects more than half of adults (57%)
  • Two thirds say wars (37%) and political uncertainty (43%) are damaging their mental health to a great extent

What our members say

It’s encouraging there’s less stigma attached to seeking therapy. There’s been a definite shift in the culture around mental health, however this isn’t just down to increased awareness of issues and raised profile of counselling services. It’s because counselling works and changes lives. These findings prove that when faced with emotional problems and mental health struggles talking therapies play a vital role in helping people manage.

Nicole Green, BACP therapist and Children and young person specialist counsellor

We're seeing an unprecedented rise in poor mental health amongst a broad section of society. This is reflected in concerns across a variety of areas such as the economy, health and education, financial pressures and climate change. There's a great deal of uncertainty and a sense of little or no control over our outcomes, in the present and the future. This feeds anxieties and creates a sense of helplessness leading to low mood and finally, depression. Engaging in counselling help us to feel more in control, allowing space to express ourselves without judgement and in doing so, feel more empowered.

Simon Coombs, BACP therapist

It’s positive to see a growing trend of conversations and awareness around mental health. But it’s worrying that anxiety and depression are still top of the list of reasons to seek counselling. However, working with a registered therapist can help to address these issues and empower people to feel more in control of their lives. We know the more we talk, the more confidence we have and, as a result, the more in control we feel.

Philip Karahassan, BACP therapist

1 About the Public Perceptions Survey

Since 2019, the BACP has conducted an annual survey to measure the opinions and attitudes of the British public towards mental health.  The survey data was collected using a self-complete, online methodology. A nationally representative sample of 5,249 adults (aged 16+) was taken from YouGov’s online research panel and results were weighted to provide a nationally representative dataset. Fieldwork for the 2024 survey was conducted between the 16 and 28 February 2024.