A new report (from MQ Mental Health Research and the University of Glasgow with support from the Lord Mayor’s Appeal) gives actionable recommendations from which we can all draw hope.
It’s undeniable, right now, we in the UK are living through a cost of living crisis. Many of us are feeling the strain on our mental health. Financial strain can put great pressure on our well-being.
The full extent of the impact – or the cost – of the current cost of living crisis is not yet known but thanks to the Mental Health Foundation we do know:
1 in 10 people say they feel hopeless about their financial situation
1 in 3 people say they feel increased stress and anxiety
What makes it harder for some?
Economically difficult times can affect people in several different ways. Some people will be affected more than others in terms of mental well-being and this isn’t always purely down to pre-established financial security. These sorts of challenging times will be different for each person individually depending on their personal circumstances and many factors. These include:
Our genetic predisposition to mental illness
levels of inequality
support structures we can access / relationships with friends and family
So how can we protect people’s mental health during the cost of living crisis?
The report looks back at previous economic crises and trends that came about as a result, learning from the past to protect our future. To acknowledge, honour and learn from the present too, the report consulted those with lived experience of mental health conditions, those who work with charities, health professionals and researchers themselves.
Thanks to all this work, the report draws some clear insights on how we can look after our own mental wellbeing and that of others during this particular financial challenge.
So what’s the solution?
There is no one-size fits all solution to supporting everyone through this economic crisis that could lead to mental health crises.
Instead the researchers have created recommendations for different sectors that focus on being:
This means we can implement these recommendations as a society, both as individuals and in our organisations and communities, to help support people and prevent mental well-being declining even further during this difficult time.
No matter which sector you or your organisation work in, according to this report, you too can be a part of the solutions to the problems so many people face right now.
The recommendations from the report for 6 different sections of our society are outlined below.
Improve leadership in mental health, through a clear 10 year plan to materialise the actions stated in the NHS’s Action Plan and Mental Health Equalities Strategy.
No to austerity. Increase funding for social welfare, local authorities and grassroot organisations to support people amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Reshape economic and social policy to tackle the underlying causes of inequality, and seek a fairer distribution of responsibilities, opportunities and assets across society.
Increase partnerships and collaboration with health and social services, including grassroot organisations.
Adopt evidence-based measures to address the practical, physical and psychological barriers for delivering and accessing healthcare.
Identify and implement best practice models for better integration across the health, social and third sectors.
Increase investment, articulation and support for community and grassroot organisations.
Take measures to increase security of employment, income and working conditions.
Increase transparency, accountability, dialogue and reassurance in decision-making to support people through the cost-of-living crisis.
Combine supportive measures in mental health, ranging from wellbeing promotion, early intervention, and referral mechanisms to specialised services.
Community and Third Sector Organisations
Fight exclusion and stigma by fostering compassion and belonging in local communities.
Facilitate integration of support services within the health, social and third sector.
Help to mobilise communities to advocate for improved health and socio-economic policy.
Promote healthy coping strategies across the community – including mental health and financial literacy – targeting those most in need.
Improve evidence on effective interventions to protect people’s mental health and enable societal resilience amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Generate evidence in accessible and useful formats to inform policy design, implementation and individual decisions.
Increase co-production with individuals and community organisations.
Cultivate and practice healthy coping strategies to increase sense of control and emotional resilience, including problem-solving and decision-making strategies and financial skills.
Cultivate compassion as a skill, and practice it towards yourself and others
There is Always Hope
As tough as times might be right now for many people, our mental health both personally and societally needn’t suffer. If we all pull together, take these recommendations on board, take action in light of them then we can prevent difficult times becoming darker and instead find a way through to a new, more hopeful horizon.
As this report shows, scientific evidence is key to helping us improve our chances of a healthier future. Because without research it’s just guesswork. And this is why your support of MQ Mental Health Research is vital for all our mental well-being, now more than ever.
The post Coping with the Mental Health Cost of The Cost of Living Crisis first appeared on MQ Mental Health Research.