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Facts and figures about poverty and mental health

Here are some key stats and facts that show why we need to do more to break the link between mental health and poverty.


Our research

Last year, we did a piece of research with people who have lived or are living in poverty. We asked them about their experiences of mental health support and how we can best help them in the future.

We worked with a research partner and spoke to hundreds of people. They all had lived experience of a mental health problem and poverty.

The research gave us lots of valuable insights which we used to create our plan for how we’ll work to make sure that people with mental health problems don’t get trapped in poverty

Some of the key findings were:

  • There’s still a lot of shame about money and mental health. There’s a lot of worry about privacy for people facing poverty and worry that they don’t deserve support. Many feel mental health is a white, middle-class conversation they can’t tap into.

  • Choice and control in support services is important. A barrier to reaching out for help was the worry of losing choice and control. And the risk of getting ‘sucked into the system’.

  • Services aren’t practical or respectful. Having the money to get to the support needed is a big barrier. And the people running those services often talk down to people and don’t take mental health problems seriously.

  • People facing poverty go outside the system for help. That means friends or family instead, or services that focus purely on mental health. Talking about feelings works better for people facing poverty.


Key findings in numbers

As part of this research, over 500 people experiencing living in poverty took part in a survey.

The full report has more information about what we found.

Read the full report

2CV scoping research survey for Mind

2CV scoping research survey for Mind

2CV scoping research survey for Mind

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UCL Covid Social (2021) Understanding the psychological and social impact of the pandemic

The groups most likely to have been negatively affected by the pandemic are people who were already experiencing mental health problems and living in poverty. This is compared to the general population. They are experiencing more psychological distress, more financial hardship, worse physical health, and more isolation.

Public Health England (2019) Better mental health: JSNA toolkit: 2 Understanding place

Poverty can be both a cause and a consequence of mental health problems. Across the UK, men and women in the poorest fifth of the population are twice as likely to be at risk of developing mental health problems as those on an average income. Unemployment and unstable employment are also both risk factors for mental health problems.

Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (2016) The missing link: how tackling financial difficulty can boost recovery rates in IAPT
A quarter of people experiencing a common mental health problem also have financial problems, 3 times more than the general population.
Welsh Government (2019) National Survey for Wales More than twice as many people in Wales (aged 16+) experience mental health problems in the most deprived fifth of the population (16%) than the least deprived fifth (7%).
Gutman, L., Joshi, H., Parsonage, M., & Schoon, I. (2015). Children of the new century: Mental health findings from the Millennium Cohort Study. London: Centre for Mental Health
Young people in the lowest income bracket are 4.5 times more likely to experience severe mental health problems than those in the highest.
Homeless Link (2014) The unhealthy state of homelessness: health audit results 2014 86% of people sleeping rough have self-reported a mental health problem (diagnosed or undiagnosed). 45% have been diagnosed with a mental health problem.
Samaritans (2017) Dying from Inequality
People in the lowest socio-economic groups and living in the most deprived areas are up to 10 times more at risk of suicide than those in the most affluent groups and in the most affluent areas.
Welsh Government (2016) The Welsh Health Survey 2016 edition
The Welsh Health Survey (2016) found that in the least deprived areas, 8% of adults were being treated for a mental health problem. This is compared to 20% of adults in the most deprived areas.
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