Exploring mental health and substance use in the UK general population

What is the purpose of the study?

People use drugs and alcohol for various reasons (e.g. to relax, cope, socialise) and some people use more than others. Drug or alcohol problems and common mental health issues (e.g. anxiety, depression) sometimes co-occur and this can make recovery from both problems more difficult. Understanding how mental health is related to different patterns of drug and alcohol use in the general population will help to improve treatment for people who are experiencing mental health and substance use problems. This study aims to explore relationships between mental health and substance use behaviours among adults in the UK.

Who can take part?

  • We are inviting people aged 18-65 who currently live in the UK

  • Volunteers must have a good understanding of the English language

What will happen if I take part?

You will be asked to fill out an anonymous questionnaire (hosted on Qualtrics) which should take you no more than 25 minutes to complete. Questions will ask about your socio-demographic information (e.g. age, income, employment), mental health symptoms and behaviours and alcohol and/or drug use. One month later you will be asked to complete a brief follow-up questionnaire about your mental health which should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.


Yes. The following steps are being taken to ensure that all of your questionnaire responses are completely anonymous:

  • Before you begin the questionnaire, you will be asked to create a unique code

  • At the end of the questionnaire you will be redirected to a separate survey to enter your e-mail address. This will allow us to send you the follow-up questionnaire whilst maintaining the anonymity of your unique code and questionnaire responses

  • When you complete the follow-up questionnaire, you will be asked to enter your unique code so that your responses can be linked between the questionnaires without revealing your identity to the researchers

No-one will be able to associate your real identity to your unique code or any of the responses that you provide in the questionnaires.

what are the possible benefits of taking part?

  • You support fundamental research questions on the relationship between common mental health problems and substance use which helps us to advance behavioural theory and research

  • You may help us to develop better preventative and clinical interventions to support people who are experiencing mental health and substance use problems

  • You will also have the opportunity to enter into a prize draw to win one of four £50 Amazon gift vouchers upon completing the follow-up questionnaire (please see full information sheet for more details)


Answering questions about your mental health and use of drugs or alcohol might make some people feel uncomfortable. Additionally, some of the questions ask about how you have been affected by COVID-19 and related issues. You do not have to answer any questions that make you feel uncomfortable.

If you feel like you’re struggling and need some support, you can access professional help for mental health concerns through your GP (Doctor), your local IAPT service (https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/) and organisations like Mind (www.mind.org.uk). If you are worried that your drug or alcohol use is getting out of control, you can contact your local drug and alcohol treatment service (https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Drug-treatment-services/LocationSearch/340) for free, non-judgemental support. If you are feeling distressed, in despair, or suicidal, call the Samaritans on 116 123 (available 24 hours a day).

who is organising the research?

The research is organised by the Department of Psychology at the University of Sheffield and led by Sophie Pott (e-mail: slpott1@sheffield.ac.uk). This project has been approved by the University of Sheffield Ethics Review Board administered by the Department of Psychology (Project ID: 036856).

Please read the full information sheet before taking part in the study. You can also download a PDF copy here.

Thank you for considering taking part. We greatly appreciate the time you dedicate to this project.