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Revealed: The mental health impact of money worries

Revealed: The mental health impact of money worries
Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

A third of people struggling with their finances experience suicidal thoughts, according to a study by Mental Health Innovations.

In a report to mark Debt Awareness Week, the charity examined the effect of the cost-of-living crisis on the mental wellbeing of the nation.

The report analysed data from two million text conversations over five years, taken by Shout, Mental Health Innovations’ helpline. It found that the cost-of-living crisis is now the main issue in about 50 conversations each day – a total of about 18,000 conversations over the course of 2023.

Shout is available 24/7 for those who are suffering a mental wellbeing crisis or need support due to stress or anxiety.

More than a third of texters shared a ‘deep sense of loneliness’ due to the strain of the cost-of-living crisis, and around half said that it led to major stress and worry for them.

Data analysis shows that demand for Shout is highest from people living in the most deprived regions of the UK, based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation. The charity said that those living in poverty are more likely to develop mental wellbeing problems than their peers and least likely to have access to effective support.

Mental Health Innovations found that half of texters who have financial difficulties experience stress and worry, with just over a third (36%) struggling with suicidal ideation.

Two-thirds (68%) of texters contacting Shout about financial issues were 25 and over, while 6% of those contacting the charity about financial concerns were aged 17 and under.

Shout’s partners include the Aviva Foundation, which has funded Mental Health Innovations to develop a three-year project aimed at helping users of the Shout service to access support to tackle their money worries.

Breaking the ‘vicious cycle’

Victoria Hornby OBE, CEO of Mental Health Innovations, said: “Every day, around 50 people reach out to Shout for mental health support due to financial issues, and we know that there are many more people who are struggling and in need of help. Our data enable us to provide information to our partners, academics, charities and statutory services that will be critical in informing responses to the challenges many in the UK are currently facing, due to the cost-of-living crisis.

“These unique insights also increase our Shout volunteers’ and clinicians’ understanding of the unfolding situation and enhance their ability to support Shout’s texters with updated resources and specialised support.”

Related: Nearly 80% of borrowers say mortgage worries impacting mental health