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We’re getting more and more calls about the cost of living crisis

Friday, 14 April 2023 Sarah

Sarah blogs about her job answering the phone to people needing mental health support, and why our Infoline is busier than ever.

When the phone rings I never know who will be on the other end of the line. I’m simply there to answer their call, listen and help as much as I can. Often when they speak to me, it will be the first time they’ve explained an entire situation before. We’re open Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm and offer free, confidential information about mental health and where people can go for help.

“While Mind can’t give people money or solve housing problems we can listen and point them in the right direction.”

Recently we’ve had more calls about the cost of living crisis with people anxious about housing situations and rising costs. While Mind can’t give people money or solve housing problems we can listen and point them in the right direction for support.

We do know that money worries impact everyone’s mental health, so I try to make sure that they think about their own mental health and know where they can get support when they need it.

New Welfare Rights Line

We’ve just opened a new Welfare Rights Line that provides general information on benefits and welfare to help people access the money that they’re entitled to. You can’t contact this service directly, but when I am talking to someone who needs that extra support, I can put them through. It’s great for me to know there is an expert on hand who understands mental health and can support them to access benefits.

I try to help as much as I can. Often, I’ll signpost callers to the Mind website or their Local Mind which can offer services such as anxiety courses or talking therapies. One of my callers who had anxiety was distressed following a disagreement at work. I listened to her and told her about the information and advice on Mind’s website. I also advised her on her Local Mind where she could try some counselling, talking therapies and a course on managing her anxiety.

“She said that she now felt like she had something in place and was thankful I’d picked up the phone.”

She was so grateful after I had helped her. She said that she now felt like she had something in place and was thankful I’d picked up the phone and simply listened to her.

A lot of our callers feel like that. When they speak to me, it will often be the first time they’ve explained an entire situation. Even just talking about something can make them feel better.

I’m so pleased when I feel like I’ve made a difference to someone’s life. One caller wanted to know how she could stop disassociating and manage it. She’d tried CBT and it hadn’t worked.

Of course, I told her about the Mind website and talked her through some of the skills on there that might help, including meditation. I also talked to her about grounding techniques and explained she should put her feet on the floor and take in all she could see, hear and smell. If any thoughts came into her head, she should just accept them and focus on slowing down her breathing. I only spent 20 minutes or so on the phone to her, but she was really grateful and noticeably calmer.

As the cost of living crisis deepens, more and more people are suffering with their mental health. Last December, the Money and Mental Health policy institute, a charity founded by consumer champion and anti-poverty campaigner Martin Lewis, reported that 17% of respondents to a survey said they had experienced suicidal ideation over the past nine months owing to the rising cost of living.

Meanwhile, last September the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy reported that two thirds of therapists said cost of living concerns were causing a decline in their clients’ mental health. These findings makes me even more aware of the importance of our Infoline in helping people who are desperate.

Loving my job

I used to work in mental health before I started on the Infoline and I feel like it’s given me a great grounding to help people. I absolutely love what I do and I feel like I was made for this job. It’s like all my previous experience working in mental health was so I could do this job. I get great support from my team leader and my team. I could speak to every single one of them if I had a problem. I have never worked with such a supportive group of people.

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