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The Cost-of-Living Crisis is negatively affecting our mental health, what can help?

The COVID 19 Pandemic was cataclysmic on our mental health and wellbeing. All over the world, people experienced the effects of change, loss, worry, loneliness and a changing economic landscape. These effects led to poorer mental health across all age groups in the UK and sharp increases in mental health service referrals. The period of recovery, the new ‘normal’, allowed some reprieve for all, including the NHS, but this was short lived, with the Cost-of-Living Crisis then hitting in 2021. With a system that is already overwhelmed, what does this mean for your health?

The Cost Crisis and your health

The ‘Heat or Eat Crisis’ is set to worsen the existing Mental Health Crisis with the National Office of Statistics recording that over two thirds of adults in the UK are feeling stressed as a direct result of the financial pinch.

Current concerns include soaring inflation, rising prices of essentials such as heat and food coupled with tax increases and a landscape of economic and wage uncertainties. These increasing pressures can lead people to bottle up feelings, worry, cause anxiety, embarrassment, stress and the feeling of a general lack of control. For many this is already the case. The NHS Mental Health Services Statistics recorded that over 1.5 million people were in contact with mental health services in July 2022. The concern is that over time, continuous pressures and uncertainties can have a significant impact on a person’s long-term health which could make it harder to retain work and maintain a consistent income.

Looking after your mind

Everyone has mental health, just like we all have physical health. If something doesn’t feel right physically, we make appointments with a GP, the opticians or dentist to get the help we need.

It’s the same with your mind, if something doesn’t feel right, the same type of response is essential. Talking about how you are feeling and seeking support from family and friends, your GP and dedicated mental health services, can prevent worsening and prolonged poor mental health. The takeaway is that talking helps and it’s ok to ask for help.

Moving forwards and taking back control

The Mental Health and Money Advice service recognise that there is a strong link between money worries and poor mental health and the importance of tackling the two together. During this difficult time, we can seek help and guidance from professionals and take matters into our own hands by making small, positive tweaks to our lifestyles.

A healthy mind and body will allow you to tackle your work and financial concerns with clarity. Managing your money well will in turn ease the strain on your mental health.

Money 

  • The Mental Health and Money Advice service offers helpful advice (and toolkits) on both money and mental health, ranging from addiction to repaying debts.
  • Make a realistic budget of your finances to create a clear picture of what’s coming in, what’s going out and where you might need help. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau can assist with creating a budget and can also advise on any benefits you might be entitled to (this is a quick and helpful budget tool).
  • The Government’s ‘Help for households’ page, contains information as to what financial help might be available as well as energy saving tips to help with planned increases.

Mental Health

  • Communication is key. Ensure you seek advice or talk to someone if you are experiencing poor mental health and delicately reach out to those who you think might be struggling. A few organisations who can help or point you to the right services include:
  • Mental Health UK
  • MIND and Local Mind
  • NHS Talking Therapies
  • CALM

 Physical Health

  • Stress and worry affect your sleep and when the quality of sleep is affected so is your mood and ability to function. Mental Health Foundation’s Better Sleep guides with tips such as reducing your room temperature and CBT techniques to tackle negative thoughts, details ways to adjust your sleep habits.
  • Drinking lots of water and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake can improve your mood and help manage some symptoms of anxiety.
  • Eating well is essential for a healthy body and good concentration, however, many people are struggling to put food on the table. See if you are entitled to get help from a Food Bank by contacting your local authority. If your food shop budget is something that you are cutting back, be sure to look at meal tips such as the BBC’s Budget Recipes to make your food go further.
  • Staying active is essential for both a healthy mind and body. Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin which can reduce anxiety, stress and in some cases depression.
  • Walking is good for you and it’s free. If you can increase your daily steps by swapping short journeys for a walk this will save you transport costs and improve your mood.

Employment

  • Our recent blog ’How to Support Employees During the Cost-of-Living Crisis’ highlights key examples of how Employers could help their Employees during the cost crisis and the overall benefits of doing so. Be sure to look through the extensive list of suggestions, such as contributions towards travel costs, access to mental health first aiders and income streaming services to see if you could request/implement any of these.

We hope that you found this article helpful and if you require any information or support in relation to any employment queries, please contact us at Jodie.hill@thrivelaw.co.uk.

Disclaimer

Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at enquiries@thrivelaw.co.uk

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