Mind Cymru research reveals young people in Wales hardest hit by cost of living crisis
The largest mental health charity in Wales is using World Mental Health Day to highlight support on offer for young people, as research shows some adolescents are turning to food banks to save money
Mental health charity Mind Cymru is calling for young people to reach out for emotional support as it reveals more than one third of 16–34 year-olds (34%) have reported declining mental health in the past year, with 84% stating the cost of living crisis had affected their mental health*.
Mind Cymru is raising awareness of its services with younger people after the data, carried out with Censuswide, also highlighted one in five 16-24 year-olds in Wales said they had used a food bank in the past 12 months.
Those aged 16-24 reported a range of symptoms, including: more than two thirds reported feeling more stressed (42%) and more anxious (41%), more than a third were more depressed (36%) and suffering worse sleep (39%), and around a third also reported developing feelings of loneliness (30%) and almost a quarter said eating problems (24%).
On average, these symptoms were reported by more young people than by older people who took part in the research.
16-24 year-olds also reported specific financial difficulties resulting from the crisis, including:
40% are less able to afford personal transport
32% are less able to afford a mobile or landline phone
29% are less able to afford their internet bill
30% also stated they are less able to afford physical activities
50% are less able to afford socialising and spending time with friends and family.
One in six (16%) of this age group said they are less able to afford talking therapy, despite 17% stating that they had considered accessing NHS counselling/talking therapies.
Mel Rose, aged 24, from Wrexham shared her experiences of the cost of living crisis and its impact on her mental health. She said:
“I’ve got an eating disorder and also depression, anxiety and emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD). Therapy for me has always been a way I’ve been able to understand my experiences.
“My NHS therapy was reduced, and I was really missing the support, so I started private therapy. I was improving and even got a part-time job. I started to use my wages to afford it, but that meant I couldn’t do other things like go out with friends. Eventually though, it became unaffordable for me, so I had to stop – after which things got worse and my mental health started to return to square one.
“Now, I spend a lot of time in the house. I’ve lost the confidence to go out with friends and it’s not helping my mental or physical health. My eating disorder continues to be a problem for me, and I think the only way for me to fully recover would be to go to a private eating disorder clinic, but they are thousands of pounds. The cost of living crisis and price rises have made it impossible to save to go.
“Everything’s risen, including heating and travel. I can’t drive because of my seizures and living in the middle of nowhere means you have to rely on public transport. The cost of living crisis really has affected me and my mental health.”
Sue O’Leary, Director for Mind Cymru in Wales, said:
“Our research offers a telling snapshot of young people’s mental health in Wales, and the way in which the cost of living crisis is impacting their daily lives. We know that this generation is among the most financially vulnerable so, against a backdrop of negative economic headlines and soaring costs, their levels of stress, anxiety and depression are a concern.
“The mental health of children and younger adults is one of the biggest challenges facing Wales today, yet in many cases they are not seeking - or are unable to seek - support for their mental health.
“That’s why, on World Mental Health Day, our message to young people is that support for your mental health is available. Mind is here for you, so please reach out."
*Combined answers of “Affected my mental health a lot” and “Affected my mental health a little” to “How, if at all, did hearing about or experiencing any of the following national issues affect your mental health in the last year?” Respondents were prompted on 13 different issues including the COL crisis.