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The cost of living crisis and mental health

The UK population is currently suffering as a result of a cost of living crisis, resulting in stress and emotional strain for those affected. Those living in poverty are more likely to develop mental health problems than their peers and least likely to have access to effective support, with increased costs of living often exacerbating existing mental health struggles.

In Debt Awareness Week and against a background of a cost of living crisis in the UK, today we’re publishing a report revealing insights about those seeking mental health support due to financial concerns from our free, confidential and 24/7 text messaging support service, Shout.

The report reveals how:

  • Half of texters who have financial difficulties experience stress and worry and 36% struggle with suicidal ideation.
  • Shout has seen an increase in discussion of financial difficulties over the past two years, with 'cost of living' currently being the main issue in around 50 Shout conversations every day.
  • People in financial difficulty specifically seek out Shout's accessible, text-based mental health support: 50% want to talk to someone they don't know and 48% are more comfortable texting than speaking about how they feel.
  • Demand for Shout is highest from people living in the most deprived regions of the UK, based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation. 25% of texters under the age of 18 are in receipt of free school meals.
  • Of people contacting Shout with financial concerns, 87% said their conversation was helpful and 65% said they felt more calm after their conversation.

“Every day, around 50 people reach out to Shout for mental health support due to financial issues. Our data enables 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 enhances their ability to support Shout’s texters with updated resources and specialised support.”

Victoria Hornby, OBE

CEO of Mental Health Innovations

Texters with financial difficulties come to Shout from Google, social media, the NHS and GP referrals, as well as increasingly from Mental Health Innovations’ partnerships with a growing number of organisations who want to support their vulnerable audiences.

Our partners include:

  • The Aviva Foundation, who have 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. This will involve MHI partnering with the free debt management and advice service PayPlan, to build a referral process that enables people seeking mental health support to access expert financial advice, and vice versa.
  • IE Hub, to whom Shout Volunteers will direct texters who are worried about money, to receive support with budgeting, managing their money and debts as well as engaging with their creditors.
  • Cadent, who came to Mental Health Innovations wanting to offer mental health support to customers living in vulnerable situations and who commissioned bespoke access to Shout’s confidential, 24/7 mental health text support.