People living in Wales are most likely to say that their financial situation is harming their mental health
Nearly half of adults in Great Britain say that the cost-of-living crisis is damaging their mental health, a poll has found.
The hardest-hit nation was Wales, where 61% of adults said their current financial situation was damaging their mental health. The comparable figures were 48% in Scotland and 47% in England.
When the survey, which was conducted by YouGov for Business in the Community (BITC), asked respondents if they were worried about paying bills in the next six months, 64% of adults in Wales said they were, compared with 53% in England and 54% in Scotland.
In England, the people most worried about paying their bills were those in the east Midlands (57%), Yorkshire and the Humber, compared with 49% of adults in London and 48% in the West Midlands.
In 2020, similar research found that only 35% of people in Wales and Scotland and 36% of people in England said their financial situation was having a negative impact on their mental health.
Luke Young, an assistant director of Citizens Advice Cymru, told the Guardian that the cost-of-living crisis was having a profound impact on people across Wales. “We know that financial difficulty, combined with longstanding issues with poverty, can make people feel unsteady and unsettled,” he said. “Nearly half of our debt clients in Wales are living on negative budgets, meaning they have nothing left after essential bills are paid.
“This feels precarious for lots of people, and so the lack of financial stability, the lack of confidence in knowing how you’re going to pay for the unexpected things that might pop up, has an effect on emotional wellbeing.”
Young said the Welsh government’s fuel support scheme was more generous than the similar scheme offered in England, but that it was planning on ending the scheme next winter. “This is money that really helps people stay above water,” he said, and urged people to contact the charity if they were struggling to cope.
BITC has launched an action plan for businesses to help them mitigate the cost-of-living crisis. This includes paying the real living wage, allowing staff to work flexibly, assessing the needs of low-income customers and providing affordable products, sharing goods with low-income communities, and supporting supply chains. Mary Macleod, BITC’s chief executive, said that the plan “provides businesses with the guidance they need to support their most vulnerable employees, customers and the communities around them.”
“We know that financial difficulty, combined with longstanding issues with poverty, can make people feel unsteady and unsettled." Luke Young, assistant director, Citizens Advice Cymru
This research is a stark illustration of the relationship between financial hardship and mental health problems. As rates of mental ill-health soar, this is a reminder that we need to address the causes as well as improve access to treatment. A firm grip on the cost-of-living crisis will help reduce pressure on mental health services.