Cost of living crisis: Survey shows impact on mental health

Release time: 2022-09-21 16:11

Cost of living crisis: Survey shows impact on mental health 

News from BACP

Two thirds of our members list cost of living concerns as a reason for Britain's mental health decline, our survey reveals

Two thirds (66%) of therapists say cost of living concerns are causing a decline in people's mental health, according to our research.

The survey of our members also found that six in 10 (61%) therapists say their clients are anxious about whether they can afford to pay their household bills.

The research highlights some of the mental health issues that have worsened due to the cost of living crisis, such as insomnia, with 52% of therapists reporting clients are losing sleep due to money worries.

Cutting back

The survey also found 49% therapists say their clients are already cutting back on activities that benefit their mental health, such as gym and sports club memberships.

Some 60% of therapists also see clients cutting back on therapy sessions due to money worries and almost half  (47%) of therapists report clients are cancelling or pausing sessions because they can no longer afford them.

Significant impact

Martin Bell, Our Head of Policy said: "Our research shows the cost of living crisis is already having a significant impact on the mental health of the UK population. Our members are witnessing first-hand how this is affecting their clients’ wellbeing. People are already making difficult decisions about what they choose to pay for, and this will have devastating consequences on their mental health and wellbeing.

"What our members are already seeing in the therapy room is just the tip of the iceberg of how the cost of living crisis is affecting people’s mental health. We fear this will only get worse over the next few months and is on top of the growing mental health need which arose from the pandemic.

Addressing inequalities

“It’s a complicated situation and there’s not one solution for tackling the mental health impact of the cost of living crisis. Alongside actions which will address the root causes of soaring costs we need to see a greater focus on addressing the inequalities which result in poorer mental health. There has to be wider access to free and affordable therapeutic support for those who need help with their mental health.

“The effects of the cost of living crisis on people’s mental health cannot be ignored.”

Practical tips

Our member Simon Coombs, a therapist based in Torquay, added some practical tips for managing the cost of living stress.

He said: "2022 has been a challenging time for many and with winter just around the corner, people are fearful of what’s to come. For those concerned about the rising cost of living, seek out practical and free advice from the likes of charities and your local council.

"Be honest with yourself, your partner, loved ones or work colleagues and tackle any bills head on instead of avoiding post, emails or calls. Take back control by writing a list of your income and outgoings, break your bills into manageable chucks and work your way through this list rationally.”


“While it is easy to look at bills and the rising cost of living from a practical standpoint, try not to overlook the impact it may be having on your mental health as well. Seeking free support from a registered counsellor or psychotherapist via charities and organisations will allow you to speak to someone experienced in working with clients dealing with financial anxieties. They will help you understand your issues and manage your thoughts and feelings better.

"You may be feeling shame or anger but you won't be judged by your therapist. Therapy helps boost your confidence and self-esteem, and will motivate you to take responsibility for your outcomes and regain your power. Asking for help is not a weakness, it's a strength because you are taking back control.”

The data comes from a survey of 2,983 of our members, carried out between 6 July and 3 August 2022.

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