Of those with existing mental health problems, more than a third said their mental health had been worsened by the rise in mortgage rates
“I am having really difficult discussions with people about their payments doubling or tripling to many hundreds of pounds more a month, and brokers are on the frontline seeing the impact this is having on people’s lives." Ben Groves, senior mortgage broker, Affinity Mortgages
More than a quarter of the adult population (29%) in England and Wales say that the increase in mortgage rates has affected their mental wellbeing, according to a new survey carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Mind, the mental health charity.
The percentage translates into 14m people, based on the most recent census.
Of the 3,015 people surveyed, one in 10 said that the rise in mortgage rates had affected their mental health “a lot,” the research found. Among people with existing mental health problems, 36% said that the increasing mortgage costs had worsened their mental health. The figure was derived in answer to the question “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 then prompted with 13 issues, of which the rise in mortgage costs was one.
The rise particularly affected young people, with almost half (48%) of those aged between 16 and 24 saying that the mortgage situation had affected their mental health.
Mind said it had seen a 55% increase in the number of people contacting its Infoline over the last 18 months about financial difficulties, including welfare, unemployment, and personal debt.
Vicki Nash, Mind’s associate director of external affairs, said: “As we continue to grapple with the rising cost of living, news of yet another possible increase in mortgage rates will be difficult for many families to bear. Money problems and mental health often form a vicious cycle, and when we’re struggling to deal with one, the other can become much harder to manage, particularly when it threatens to impact our housing situation.
“We know some people are becoming so unwell that they need hospital treatment for their mental health. When this happens, the care they receive when they leave hospital is critical, so we are calling for the introduction of comprehensive welfare checks, including of people’s financial situation.
“These figures show 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 on our website that will be available throughout this difficult period.”
Robert Sinclair, chief executive of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), said that mortgage brokers were seeing evidence of the stress felt by mortgage holders who, he said, were “facing much higher interest rates than anyone anticipated.” He added: “We hear of people in tears, others thinking of selling up, but with nowhere to go. In addition, the volatility means that we see mortgage products withdrawn with very little notice, forcing brokers to work late into the night or during weekends in addition to the normal week. All of this can impact mortgage brokers’ own mental health.
“These new pressures can damage the mental health of those involved directly, but also puts pressure on relationships with family and friends. Brokers are not trained to deal with these extreme impacts.”
Ben Groves, senior mortgage broker at Affinity Mortgages, said that there was not enough wellbeing support for people affected by the rise in interest rates, adding: “I am having really difficult discussions with people about their payments doubling or tripling to many hundreds of pounds more a month, and brokers are on the frontline seeing the impact this is having on people’s lives. You feel guilty if you haven’t been able to secure a new deal if the lender changes products on the same day, and I’m often re-doing work and working late into the evenings submitting applications to try to support my clients as best as I can. All of this can have an impact on our own mental health.”
Last week saw the Bank of England raise interest rates once more, to a 15-year high of 5.25%. The knock-on effect on mortgage rates will impact millions of people. Some households will struggle to cope with having to find hundreds of pounds more a month simply to pay for their housing costs. Mind is right to draw attention to the stress and anxiety this will cause many people, and we agree that there is a risk that we will see soaring numbers with mental health problems at a time when NHS mental health services are already under strain. The introduction of comprehensive welfare checks, including of people’s financial situation, as proposed by Mind, is a step in the right direction.