The UK is officially the world’s second-most miserable country

The 2024 Global Mind Project has revealed that us Brits are some of the unhappiest people on the planet

Annie McNamee
Written by
Annie McNamee
Contributor, Time Out London and UK
British bulldog on a Union Jack background
Photograph: Time Out / Shutterstock

Brits aren’t united by much. This country is so divided that millions denounce their Britishness – and perhaps they’re right to turn their backs on these isles, as it turns out that the UK is apparently quite literally the most miserable place on Earth (almost).

Sapien Labs, a not-for-profit neuroscience research body, started publishing its annual Global Mind Project in 2019. Since then, it claims that there has been a global decline in mental wellbeing, saying that the past few years have seen ‘no sign of recovery’.

This year’s Global Mind Project reveals that Britain is the second-most unhappy country in the entire world. Despite everyone, everywhere feeling worse since the pandemic, we apparently feel even worse. Never a people to be outdone, eh? 

So how did Sapien Labs actually measure this? Well, people across more than 70 countries were asked to complete an online questionnaire known as the Mental Health Quotient (MHQ), which assessed their overall happiness and resilience in six areas. From that, people were placed on a scale from -100 to 200, with the upper end being very satisfied.

The UK’s respondents scored a measly average of 49. And we weren’t far off last place: we only scored one more point than bottom-of-the-pile Uzbekistan. 

We Brits did, however, come last in the ‘percentage of people struggling mentally’ category, with a whopping 35 percent of Brits describing themselves as ‘distressed’. Perhaps all that moaning about the weather, trains, strikes, the NHS, the government, the telly, and the scratchiness of your socks takes a toll on a person. Who’d have thought.

Interestingly, the report has found year after year that mo’ money does mean mo’ problems, as the wealthier a country is the lower it tends to score. The happiest places in the world, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka and Tanzania, are all developing countries, who definitely know how to enjoy life better than us. In fact, Europe and North America did pretty poorly as continents in general, so at least it’s not just us.

Undoubtedly, many will take this opportunity to complain about how bad we have it, but let’s take this as a sign to change our ways. Do we really want our international rep to be grumpy and British? The rest of the world already dislikes us enough. 

Plus, there’s loads to like about our little island. London was recently named the best city in Europe, and Glasgow the best city for live music in the world. There’s a wealth of really good restaurants, and we have actually got some pretty cool new stuff on in the next 12 months.

You can read more about Sapien Labs’ 2024 Global Mind Project on Time Out here and check out the full report here

Need some good news to cheer you up?

You’ve come to the right place. We at Time Out love the UK, warts and all. Did you see that this year’s cherry blossom season in the UK could be bigger than ever? Or that this 800-year-old castle in Scotland will soon open to visitors? There’s also going to be a new national park in Scotland, and England is getting 27 new wild bathing spots.

Did you see that this Scottish luxury manor has been crowned Britain’s best hotel by the Times?

Plus: These derelict historic railway arches in Manchester are getting a serious glow-up.

Stay in the loop: sign up to our free Time Out UK newsletter for the latest UK news and the best stuff happening across the country.  

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