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Mental health of half of adults in England and Wales negatively affected by cost-of-living crisis

Monday, 15 May 2023 Mind
  • Mental health of half (48%) of people in England and Wales is negatively affected by financial impact of cost-of-living crisis, rising to nearly three quarters (73%) for those with existing mental health problems

  • Over half (56%) of those who said they’ve been negatively affected say it’s made them more anxious

  • Yet over half (54%) haven't accessed mental health support from a GP and two thirds (66%) haven’t accessed online information resources

  • Mind is encouraging those finding it difficult to cope to seek support and speak to Mind

The mental health of nearly half (48%) of people in England and Wales has been negatively affected by the cost-of-living crisis, rising to nearly three quarters (73%) for those with an existing mental health problem. This is according to new research released today from the mental health charity Mind to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week [see note 1]

Over half of people (56%) who say they’ve experienced a negative mental health effect, also say the cost-of-living crisis has made them more anxious. Over half are feeling more stressed (55%), nearly half are feeling more depressed (45%), and a third are feeling lonely (33%). [see note 2]

And the toll of the cost-of-living crisis on our mental health is even worse for those of us with an existing mental health problem. Two thirds say they are feeling more anxious (66%), stressed (65%) and more depressed (64%), and nearly half are feeling lonely (47%). [see note 3]

Most concerning of all is that so many people who say they have experienced a negative impact are not getting the support they need. For example, over half (54%) haven't accessed support from a GP, two thirds (66%) haven’t accessed online mental health information resources, and the majority (71%) haven't accessed support through a local mental health charity. [see note 4] That’s why this Mental Health Awareness Week (15 – 21 May), Mind is encouraging people that may be struggling to get support.

Sunita Thind, 40, from Derby, has lived experience of anxiety, depression and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). Her mental health problems have, in part, been triggered by her physical health, after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer led to surgical menopause and non-epileptic seizure disorder. The cost-of-living crisis has also seriously impacted her mental health and her ability to access spaces where she can talk about it.

She says: “The cost-of-living has impacted my anxiety and depressive moods – I can’t work full-time due to my physical health, so I’m always worried about money. It’s awful. The money that I do have coming in goes straight out again on things like bills and food – which are astronomical now – so I don’t have as much left to spend on visiting spaces where I can talk about mental health.

“I still go out and do things, but not as much. I used to see friends more often, but we can’t do things like go shopping or eat at a café anymore. They live far away, so there’s a cost involved in meeting them.”

Matt Rimmington, 24, from Bath, has experience of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

He says: “The cost-of-living crisis has triggered my anxiety. I turn the electricity off at the mains sometimes now – which I didn’t do often before all of this.

“Life can often get in the way of me talking openly about my struggles. Being busy often leads to my issues gradually getting worse until it can all be a bit too much. I sabotage my wellbeing by worrying I’ll burden people with my problems too. The stigma around mental health stops me from reaching out, going so far as to sometimes thinking that I don't have any real issues worthy of notice, so I shouldn't talk about them with anyone because they’ll think I’m being dramatic or seeking attention.”

Mind Chief Executive, Sarah Hughes, said:

“The uncertainty of watching as our costs spiral can be difficult to bear and having so much to deal with can affect our mental health. Despite this, looking after our mental wellbeing is often last on our list. It’s really important that we all get the support we need - this is a mental health emergency that everyone is going to need help to deal with.

“We know we can’t fix the cost-of-living crisis but support for your mental health is out there and we are here for you. This includes through Mind’s Infoline, online community, Side by Side and the useful information available on our website.”  

The charity has advice for managing money if you are experiencing poor mental health. For example, making sure you are claiming any extra money or support you are entitled to and getting to know your money and mood patterns. For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week, including advice on money and mental health visit Mind’s website

About the poll:

Survey was carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Mind with a sample of 3,015 respondents across England and Wales with 1,000 in Wales and 2,015 in England between 24.03.2023 - 12.04.2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. Censuswide are also part of The British Polling Council.

Further Notes:

1. Figure combines “My mental health has significantly declined”, “My mental health has somewhat declined” and “My mental health has been negatively affected by the impact of the cost of living crisis on my finances, but is overall similar/the same as last year”

2. Figures based on a sample of 1,433 respondents who answered the survey.

3. Figures based on a sample of 511 respondents who answered the survey.

4. Figure combines “Thought about accessing” or “Not accessed, not thought about it” and “I am not on any waiting list for, have not used, and have not thought about using any formalised mental health supports or resources to address this” for “Your GP”, “Online mental health information resources” and “Support through a local mental health charity” respectively. Figures based on a sample of 1,433 respondents who answered the survey.

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