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The Cost of Living’s Mental Health Impact & How to Beat It

The Cost of Living’s Mental Health Impact & How to Beat It

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In the UK, residents are currently facing the ongoing ‘cost-of-living crisis’ – referring to the extortionate rise in costs of goods and services relative to salaries and taxes.

In terms of everyday life, this may affect areas such as the cost of electricity and gas (energy bills) within the household, as well as a rise in price for many essential goods i.e., from local supermarkets etc. 

This is a serious issue, as it means that more and more people may begin to struggle with their financial situation – an area which can quickly start to impact other areas of individuals’ lives such as their mental health, wellbeing, and general quality of life. 

The links between money and mental health

As mentioned above, when individuals begin struggling with their financial situation, this may also impact other areas of their life.

One of the most commonly and strongly affected areas that can have a negative impact as a result of the cost-of-living crisis and other financial issues is mental health

Excessive worrying about money, becoming more withdrawn from social activities as a result of a poor financial situation, and falling into cycles of low mood and motivation are all common mental health effects that can arise from money troubles.

Research suggests that those in financial trouble have a significantly higher rate of depression, anxiety, social network struggles, and low sense of self, though these can improve when the individual is given financial support in some cases

How can having a mental health problem affect finances?

Due to the link between the cost-of-living crisis and mental health, there are many ways in which the individual’s mental health may then begin to impact their ability and performance at work. 

Not only do finances affect mental health, but vice versa. 

For example, if individuals are struggling financially, then they may develop mental health issues, but these, in turn, can also impact the individual’s career and work, as well. 

This is something that is important to keep in mind, especially if you feel as though you are struggling at work as a result of your mental health. It is vital to keep yourself healthy, recognise any impacts that may be being caused, and be kind to yourself on the road to recovery. 

Less productivity at work

In terms of overcoming these issues that may be affecting the individual’s mental health, it is essential that both the individual and their employer work together to create a safe and suitable working environment for the individual and their individual needs.

This has been shown to be especially effective when working with individuals who may be struggling with depression

Any individual who is struggling at work as a result of mental health issues has the right to ask for help, receive support where necessary, and make changes to their work life in order to accommodate any attempts at rehabilitation. 

High risk and vulnerable groups

As with all diseases, both physical and mental, there are some individuals who may be more likely to develop them as a result of specific characteristics or features of a particular demographic of individual. 

The following paragraphs outline some of the most at-risk individuals as well as the ways in which their mental health may be impacted as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. 

Please be aware that there are many individuals in high-risk groups and that this description/list is not extensive. 

1. Children and young people

In a combination of the cost-of-living crisis and other recent world events, children and young people are some of the most high-risk individuals in the UK at the moment. 

Parents of children at school may not be able to afford school lunches, new uniforms, or attendance at school friends’ events. This can lead to a multitude of issues, mainly with the child being excluded from some activities as a result of their family’s financial situation.

This can affect their attendance at school and therefore may impact their future chances of receiving an effective and regular education. This may impact their choices later in life.  

2. Working-age adults

Older individuals of working age can have just as much pressure as those younger than them; they are the individuals who are bringing home enough to support their family and/or lifestyle. 

This creates additional pressure as these individuals may be caring for someone else as well as themselves, restricting their financial situation and making them choose between essentials and recreation. 

In more and more cases, a working adult may have to choose between eating a good meal each night or going out with a group of friends after work – situations like this are only becoming more common. 

3. Older people

Without a strong pension scheme – the likes of which are quickly becoming rarer by the day – older individuals or those who are retired may begin to struggle with the financial difficulties of keeping up with bills and costs of running their household. 

Without the ability to work, many older individuals are reliant on the support and advice that they receive from the government, putting them in the danger zone for rising costs and increased prices of services. 

These individuals also often have less of a choice when it comes to where to live, further restricting their ability to save money on essential services and costs. 

4. Individuals struggling with addiction

Perhaps thought of less when it comes to the individuals struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and mental health, those struggling with addiction are especially vulnerable during these modern crises. 

When someone is addicted, they continuously seek a substance or behaviour, causing further harm to themselves should they engage with their addiction, or creating serious issues if they are unable to partake in their addictive behaviours. 

For some individuals, the cost-of-living crisis may make their addiction worse, perhaps by increasing the quantity of the substances they are consuming or increasing the frequency of their addictive behaviours. This can quickly become expensive and can have serious long-lasting health risks.

In other cases, individuals may not be able to engage with their addictive behaviours, causing withdrawal symptoms and, therefore, even further issues.

More information about the alcohol rehabilitation process can be found on Rehab Recovery’s website, a good example of an organisation that has an excellent track record of helping people recover from addiction.

Coping with the cost of living crisis

As the cost-of-living crisis is ongoing and shows no signs of coming to an immediate stop, it is important that individuals work towards positive mental health, even if they do not feel as though they can make any major changes. 

The following three subheadings cover some top tips on coping with the cost-of-living crisis and mental health, giving advice on how best to deal with the pressures, stressors, and experiences that come with this modern phenomenon. 

1. Focus on what you can control

As hard as it may seem to narrow down the issues that one is faced with from day to day, it is important to only focus on the things that can be changed and try not to fixate on those that we cannot change too much. 

By doing this, an individual will grow a greater sense of control in their lives – financially or in any other way – which can lead to a greater peace of mind from day to day. 

Focussing on the things that we cannot change, such as the government’s approach to overcoming the cost-of-living crisis, may not prove very helpful when the individual focuses on themselves and their issues at the time. 

2. Prioritise your health

Similar to the tip above, it is important to put yourself first. If an individual always puts their work first, for example, then they may miss out on a lot of time, effort, and care that could be put back into themselves (especially if their workplace is not compliant with new rules concerning mental health and time off etc.).

By putting themselves first, any individual can grow their self-esteem, self-appreciation, and self-recognition to ensure greater peace of mind and work towards more positive mental health.  

This also includes listening to your body and mind. If something doesn’t feel right, or if something has changed from how it used to be (either physical health or mental health), then it is a good idea to talk to someone about this – either a close and trusted individual or by seeking professional help. 

3. Talk about your money worries

In some cases, it may be necessary to include financial support in the process of overcoming mental health issues relating to this area.

This can be done by contacting the services that are available to you, getting advice from professional services, or creating a tracker and budgeting system for yourself and those around you. 

Take a look at some of our other webpages to get examples of financial support and what this may consist of.

Calls to the government and the system

As individuals, it is challenging to find ways around the cost-of-living crisis and the impact that this is having on individuals’ mental health, but it is vital that changes are made. 

With the continuation of current support services from the government e.g., energy price cap, additional financial support for those on the lowest incomes, etc., the future looks slightly brighter, but there is more work to be done. 

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