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Managing Your Money Q3 2022

How the cost of living crisis risks everyone’s mental health

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Vicki Nash

Associate Director of Policy, Campaigns And Public Affairs, Mind

The adage ‘money doesn’t buy you happiness’ is a strange one. Although money doesn’t guarantee you’ll feel good, for the millions of people across the country bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis — waking up to a cold house or hungry children — this saying will ring hollow.


The New Economics Foundation estimates that 5.2 million more people will be pushed into poverty as a result of the cost of living crisis. The strain households are under is now pushing many individuals’ mental health to breaking point.

Declining circumstances

Mind’s Infoline has seen a 30% increase in the number of people getting in touch, telling us about their difficulties with money and debt. People are expressing anxiety and concern over bills, eviction and not being able to afford essentials.

Money troubles and poor mental health have a cyclical relationship. If you’re struggling financially, you’re more likely to experience a mental health problem; and if you have a mental health problem, you’re more likely to struggle financially. The cost of living crisis means more people are struggling in both ways.

More people need support, and people already receiving support need more of it — but NHS mental health services can’t cope with demand.

People are expressing anxiety and concern over bills, eviction and not being able to afford essentials.

Insufficient support

The most recent estimates suggest that 1.6 million people are on waiting lists for mental health support right now. A further 8 million people who’d benefit from support can’t access it at all.

These two emergencies — our underfunded, barely coping mental health system and the biggest cost of living crisis in decades — are threatening to run headfirst into one another. Our mental health services are on the brink of collapse.

Alongside full and proper funding for mental health services, the new Government needs to re-commit to implementing a 10-year, cross-government mental health plan. This ambitious vision must outline how different departments will collaborate to identify and tackle the many causes of poor mental health and the NHS backlog.

Financial wellness

We also need to see the UK Government properly supporting people with the lowest incomes through the welfare system. They are at the highest risk of financial destitution from rising costs and were already likely to be struggling with a mental health problem before the cost of living crisis. Making sure our benefits system gives people enough to live on is the bare minimum. Money might not buy happiness, but a lack of it can certainly impact how we feel. If the UK Government doesn’t act now, it’ll not only be people’s finances at risk but their future health, happiness and wellbeing too.

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