Poor mental health spurs from financial insecurity, a UK poverty charity finds

A new report published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has discovered various connections between financial insecurity and poor-mental health.

Written by Tom Clark, the report is calling for more to be done to protect millions of people in Britain, who are feeling exposed at a time of rocketing prices and interest rates.

person showing both hands with make a change note and coins

The research hopes to guide what the government should prioritise in next week’s fiscal statement. 

According to the charity, reforms to rental and employment laws could help bolster financial security and begin to address mental health problems which cost the health service around £15bn a year, and the wider economy an estimated £100bn plus.

When gathering their information, JRF focused on data from just before the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis to see how financial insecurity has affected people in Britian. 

The charity discovered:

  • Renters are twice as likely to lose sleep due to feeling under strain or depressed than homeowners
  • People with less than £1K in the bank were found to take less care with work or other tasks
  • People employed under zero-hour contracts have poorer mental health than secure workers

As well as looking at people’s employment and housing situations, the JRF also found a connection between anti-depressant prescriptions and local economic exposure.

The report revealed all 10 of the English communities with the highest prescription rates are in the north including, Blackpool and Middlesbrough which consistently rank among the most deprived areas in England.

Additionally, prescriptions of drugs used to treat conditions such as psychosis are also higher in these areas.

Within their research JRF also examined the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) numbers on people who are on low incomes compared to those that have low-savings and discovered Britain has more financial insecurity than Italy, France and Germany.

However, people Britain were found to be more secure than those in America.

The report says, ‘In the short term, these findings make clear the government should use the fiscal statement next week to bring true stability to lives which are currently being lived on shifting sands.

‘Without clear, consistent action this will be an anxious winter followed by extremely lean years for many on low or even middle incomes.’

Tom Clark, JRF Fellow and Journalist, said:

‘This report picks up on a rising sense of insecurity in Britain today. It interrogates the potential connection between the shaky foundations of material life for many of our citizens and burgeoning signs that a growing anxiety problem is gripping the country.

‘Too many people are caught up in a vicious cycle in which mental distress impedes confidence, leading to problems at work, which can in turn lead to issues with debt, housing and even relationships, leading to still more worry.

‘While more analytical work is needed, what’s already clear is that the UK has big, and on many measures, growing problems with both material insecurity and mental distress, and that the two very much seem to be linked.

‘The government needs to wake up to the reality of the twin problems of insecurity and anxiety, which are doing great harm to both national economic well-fare and individual well-being.’

Photo by Katt Yukawa


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