Are you ok? Two thirds of adults have said they were fine when struggling with their mental health

  • Fears that other people don’t really want to know (40%) and embarrassment (24%) stops us opening up about our mental health 
  • Brits are three times more likely to open up about a physical difficulty than a mental health difficulty 
  • Two thirds of people have had or know someone that has had a mental health difficulty caused or made worse by money worries 
  • Santander is encouraging people to be more open about money worries as it works with mental health charity, Mind, to deliver training for colleagues, to have the right conversations with customers 


When asked “Are you ok?” nearly two thirds (64%) of UK adults have said they were fine, rather than reveal a mental health struggle, research by Santander has found.   

A study of 2,000 UK adults1 found nearly four in ten people worried that the person asking the question was only making small talk and didn’t really want to hear the truth. A quarter (24%) was too embarrassed to open up, while 17% worried it would make the other person like them less if they were open about a mental health issue. 

A fifth (20%) feared answering honestly would leave the person who asked wishing that they hadn’t. 

Santander wants to encourage people to be more open to questions about well-being as it also found that two thirds (66%) of people have personally faced, or know someone who has faced, mental health problems caused or made worse by money issues. To support with this, the bank is currently rolling out a new training programme designed and delivered by mental health charity Mind. The programme provides colleagues with guidance to have the right conversations with customers, as well as having a better understanding about their own wellbeing. 

Josie Clapham, Director of financial support at Santander said: “Many of us don’t want to ‘burden’ others with how we feel, or we worry that we’ll be judged or viewed differently if we’re honest about a mental health struggle.  

“We know that money worries can often be the cause of mental health problems and for some people the challenges of the last eighteen months are not over.  With the end of furlough weighing heavily for some customers, we want them to know that if they need to talk to us we’re here ready to support them with a sympathetic, non-judgemental ear, as well as practical solutions for their finances.” 

When asked the question, “Are you ok?” people were three times more likely to open up about a physical difficulty they had experienced than a mental health difficulty.  

However, the pandemic has marked a shift in our attitudes to the “Are you ok?” question, with 71% of people saying they are now more likely to use it as a way to genuinely enquire into someone’s wellbeing than before Covid-19. The study found that after asking if someone is ok, 43% would be ‘glad that they asked’ if they were given an honest answer about how the other person really felt.  45% would be pleased they felt they could be open with them, while 36% would feel humbled that they had confided in them.  

Half (50%) of UK adults would make a conscious effort to check in more frequently with someone if they knew they had been struggling with their mental health.  

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “We know there is a strong link between money and mental health – and for some, the pandemic and the economic recession has hit both, hard, with the impact likely to be felt for a long time to come. This research shows that people still find it difficult to talk about their mental health, but we need to continue having these important conversations. There are many people ready to listen non-judgementally and signpost to support if needed.  

“Mind is pleased to be delivering training to Santander to help the wellbeing and mental health of their colleagues and customers. If you need information and support about your money, your mental health, or both, visit” 

Overall, almost a fifth of adults (18%) admit they struggle to talk about their innermost feelings, even with those closest to them. More than half (52%) wouldn’t admit to not feeling ok to a partner, while a similar proportion (53%) would hide their true feelings from their close friends. Among all age groups, those aged over 65 were least likely to speak about a mental health difficulty. 

Alongside the support offered by its colleagues, Santander also has a suite of online resources to help customers who are struggling with their finances, including links to independent organisations such as Mind.  


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The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. 


Notes to Editors  

  • Research conducted by OnePoll, July 2021, among 2,000 UK adults.  


Mind and Santander UK 

In 2020, Santander commissioned Mind’s workplace wellbeing services to produce and deliver tailored customer support and mental health briefing sessions (two-hour-long) to around 200 Santander colleagues working within customer support. Mind also provided access to their mental health awareness at work eLearning course and online resources to be hosted on Santander’s Wellbeing Hub for colleagues. Following the successful roll out of the initial sessions, Santander has invested in further customer support mental health courses for more than 1,000 colleagues by the end of 2021. Mind has also delivered training to 400 Santander line managers to increase their awareness and understanding of how they can support their team’s mental health and wellbeing. Mind continues to consult with Santander on their in-house training courses to help develop their offering in relation to mental health and wellbeing at work. 

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 31 June 2021, the bank had around 20,900 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK. 

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the first half of 2021, Banco Santander had €1.1 trillion in total funds, 150 million customers, of which 24.2 million are loyal and 45.3 million are digital, 10,000 branches and 190,000 employees.