Cost of living: Mind reports worst figures since lockdown

11:00 a.m. 28 June 2022

Suffolk is currently experiencing the worst mental health figures since the first lockdown, according to a local mental health charity.

The latest figures from Suffolk Mind show that between April and June 2022, 65% of the county’s population were at risk or experiencing stress or mild/moderate poor mental health.

It shows a 12% increase from January to March and is the second worst quarter of data since the charity started measuring in 2019.

“There has been a steady increase in the number of people contacting us,” said Suffolk Mind chief executive Jon Neal.

“The number hasn’t really gone down since the pandemic and where it started to go down, other things started to take its place.

“The cost of living is one of them. More and more of our users have talked about food banks, choosing between heating and buying food.

“The cost of living challenges we all face will inevitably affect mental health.”

Suffolk Mind says the main factors that lead people to not meet their emotional needs are control, security and feeling valued.

“There are a number of emotional needs that need to be met to avoid stress. With the cost of living crisis, control and security are particularly challenged,” Mr Neal said.

“If we’re worried about paying our bills or our jobs, that’s a real challenge to our safety. If you don’t feel like you can eat or take a hot shower in the morning, then you don’t feel like you have control.”

Earlier this year, Citizens Advice in Ipswich warned of a mental health crisis in the context of the rising cost of living.

Faced with such a crisis, new concerns are emerging about the ability of local services to meet demand.

“Suffolk mental health services were already struggling,” Mr Neal said.

Jon Neal, Managing Director of Suffolk Mind
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“Staff are working so hard and we are concerned about the ability of the whole system, not just locally, to be able to help as many people as possible.”

Looking ahead, Neal stresses the importance of asking for help.

“If someone has mental difficulties, they should always see someone who can help them.

“It should always be a GP as your first port of call, and there are many resources that can be found.

“If you are in financial difficulty, go talk to Citizens Advice.

“There is help out there for you.”

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