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A third of people’s mental health affected by rising mortgage costs

Nick Cheek
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Nick Cheek

The increasing cost of mortgages has impacted around 29% of people in England and Wales, equivalent to around 14m people, according to a mental health charity.

According to research from Mind, which carried out a survey of 3,015 respondents across England and Wales, people have said their mental health has been impacted by hearing about or experiencing increasing mortgage costs over the last year.

Around 10% said that it had impacted their mental health a lot.

The research also noted that the impact was aggravated for people with existing mental health problems, with almost four in 10 saying rising mortgage costs had worsened their mental health.

Young people are especially impacted with nearly half of those aged between 6 and 24 suggesting that rising mortgage rates had impacted them in some way.

Mind noted that it had seen a 55% increase in the number of people contacting its Infoline in the last 18 months with financial difficulties. This includes welfare, unemployment and personal debt.

Vicki Nash, Mind’s associate director of external affairs, said: “As we continue to grapple with the rising cost of living, news of yet another possible increase in mortgage rates will be difficult for many families to bear.

“Money problems and mental health often form a vicious cycle, and when we’re struggling to deal with one, the other can become much harder to manage, particularly when it threatens to impact our housing situation.”

She added: “We know some people are becoming so unwell that they need hospital treatment for their mental health. When this happens, the care they receive when they leave hospital is critical, so we are calling for the introduction of comprehensive welfare checks, including of people’s financial situations.

“These figures show this is a mental health emergency that everyone is going to need help to deal with. We know we can’t fix the cost-of-living crisis but support for your mental health is out there, and we are here for you. This includes through Mind’s Infoline, online community, Side by Side and the useful information on our website that will be available throughout this difficult period.”

Brokers witnessing poor mental health daily

Robert Sinclair, chief executive of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), added that mortgage brokers confirm they see “evidence every day of the stress being felt by mortgage holders who are facing much higher interest rates than anyone anticipated”.

“We hear of people in tears, others thinking of selling up, but with nowhere to go. In addition, the volatility means that we see mortgage products withdrawn with very little notice, forcing brokers to work late into the night or during weekends in addition to the normal week. All of this can impact mortgage brokers’ own mental health,” he noted.

Sinclair said the “new pressures” can damage the mental health of those involved directly but could also put pressure on relationships with family and friends.

“Brokers are not trained to deal with these extreme impacts. It is crucial that charities like Mind focus on these issues and we welcome their work in supporting people at this difficult time. The AMI also has our own Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter, but this will only scratch the surface,” he noted.

Ben Groves, mortgage broker at Affinity Mortgages, said that lenders were “not making it easy for mortgage brokers and there is not enough wellbeing support”.

“At the moment they are changing rates with as little as two hours’ notice, so if you are working with multiple families in a day, it is almost impossible to be able to react and secure a new product in time for them,” he added.

Groves said that he was “having really difficult discussions with people about their payments doubling or tripling to many hundreds of pounds more a month, and brokers are on the frontline seeing the impact this is having on people’s lives”.

He continued: “You feel guilty if you haven’t been able to secure a new deal if the lender changes products on the same day, and I’m often re-doing work and working late into the evenings submitting applications to try to support my clients as best as I can. All of this can have an impact on our own mental health.

“It’s not unrealistic to ask for more notice from lenders to give brokers time to do their jobs well, and there must be support for people in my line of work who are finding the stress of the current situation affecting their mental wellbeing.”