Exclusive: Soaring Cost Of Living Causing Mental Health Crisis, Official Figures Show
The cost of living crisis is wreaking havoc on households this Christmas, with the poorest families twice as likely to suffer from depression.
A survey conducted this fall by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that people’s mental health is suffering amid rising energy bills and double-digit inflation.
Food bank coordinators say many families are feeling “left out” from Christmas this year because they can’t afford to attend school festivals or field trips. Many are confronted with poverty for the first time.
The poorest 20% of households are twice as likely to suffer from moderate or severe depression as the richest 20%, the survey found, while over a quarter of tenants now suffer from moderate depression.
The ONS also found that those who struggle to afford energy bills are five times more likely to have moderate or severe depression, and those who have been forced to spend less because of rising costs of living are twice as likely to have moderate depression To suffer .
Last year, 18 million days were lost to mental illness, making it the biggest cause of economic inactivity in the UK. The lost days have cost the economy an estimated £117 billion a year.
Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour’s shadow cabinet minister for mental health, said Liz Truss’ mini-budget in September, which sent financial markets into freefall and led to a rise in mortgage rates, contributed to the crisis.
She said Labor will abolish the so-called ‘non-dom’ status – which allows foreigners living in the UK not to pay tax in that country on their overseas earnings – and instead spend the money on the NHS.
“The disastrous economic policies of successive Conservative governments are bringing misery to millions this Christmas – but Christmas has come early for non-Doms,” she told HuffPost UK.
“Labour has a plan to transform mental health services and prioritize prevention by hiring 8,500 staff in our first term, guaranteeing treatment within a month, access to a psychiatrist in every school and a mental health center in every enabling community,” said Allin-Khan.
Charlotte White, who helps coordinate a food bank in Wandsworth, said she has noticed an increase in people seeking well-being support through the food bank.
“Many guests are struggling with their mental health and are facing poverty for the first time as they are suddenly unable to heat their homes and feed their families,” she said.
“More and more people are looking for support from our on-site wellness service.
“As Christmas approaches, I know that many of our families will be particularly concerned. Whether it’s paying for your child to attend the school Christmas party, the school Christmas trip, or buying a Christmas jumper for the inconsistent day, many will feel left out this year.”
A separate analysis by Statista found that people living in the north-east of England had the least money left over Christmas after losing £189 of their disposable income that year.
They are followed by households in Wales, which will lose £168, and households in Northern Ireland, which will lose £152.
A user of Little Village, a baby bank that operates across London, said Christmas this year is going to be “very, very difficult”.
“Christmas will be a normal day,” they said.
“I can’t afford to party like I used to. I can’t afford presents for the children, it’s very sad. My daughter will be even sadder. We won’t eat anything special.”
A Treasury Department spokesman said: “We understand the impact global price hikes are having here in the UK and the toll it can take on people’s mental health.
“That’s why tackling inflation is this Government’s top priority, with a plan to more than halve inflation next year and the typical household will save more than £900 as we keep energy bills low this winter.
“Over 8million vulnerable households have received an extra £1,200 of living expenses this year and a further £26billion support package is on the way next year – on top of rising benefits in line with inflation, which will cost £11billion worth are working-age households and people with disabilities.
“It is also vital that people have access to mental health care during this challenging time. That’s why we’ve invested £500m this year to expand the delivery of mental health services and eliminate waiting times, and committed an additional £2.3bn in funding each year through 2024.”