PEOPLE in Oxfordshire are happier than they were a year ago, a new survey by the Office for National Statistics shows.

The ONS carries out research every year to gauge the personal well-being of citizens across the nation.

It includes asking respondents aged 16 or over to rank their happiness, life satisfaction and sense of the things they do in life being worthwhile on a scale from zero to 10.

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The average happiness score for people in Oxfordshire in 2018-19 was 7.64 – up from 7.58 the previous year.

This reflected the trend across the UK, where average scores have risen gradually since the survey began in 2011-12, to a record high of 7.56.

But the area's score was in line with the average of 7.64 across the South East.

People were also asked to rate their level of anxiety over a given day, with zero representing 'not at all anxious' and 10 'completely anxious'.

The average score in Oxfordshire was 2.96, a slight drop from the previous year.

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This reflected the trend across the UK, which saw a small drop in anxiety levels last year, to 2.87 – the joint-lowest since 2015-16.

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said the rise in happiness scores and drop in those for anxiety could mean people are investing more in looking after their mental health.

However, he also warned that a rise in well-being did not necessarily mean a reduction in mental health problems.

He said: “For every person that’s reportedly feeling less anxious, there is another that’s just been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, with many struggling to get the care and treatment they need.

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“As a charity we’re still seeing plenty of people seeking help from our services, support groups and advice line, and it’s clear that there’s plenty of work left to do.”

A spokeswoman for mental health charity Mind cautioned that well-being levels can vary around the country, and can be affected by different factors.

“Poverty, isolation, housing and access to green spaces, for example, can all affect our mental health,” she added.

“While life events such as job losses, which might happen to many people in one community at a time, can also play a part.”