Researchers at the University of Southampton have started work to examine the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on mental health of adults in Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Southampton & Portsmouth.
Previous evidence has shown that financial difficulties increase the risk of mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
This new study will work with local organisations - like charities - supporting mental health and giving financial advice to help identify the current trends and think about possible solutions to help more people access support. As part of the 18-month project researchers are looking for those organisations to share information on the number of people seeking help for debt and mental health and take part in interviews and complete questionnaires about their experiences.
Dr. Thomas Richardson, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and joint Chief Investigator said: “We know that financial difficulties can really impact mental health, and vice versa. We are hoping that this study will work out the impact of the cost-of-living crisis locally and help us better support the financial and mental health of people in our communities”.
The researchers will carry out surveys and interviews with the public and those with experience of mental health problems. They also need people to help with focus groups to advise researchers on the best way to develop and share results from their work.
Dr. Dianna Smith, Associate Professor of Health Geography and joint Chief Investigator said: “We know from our previous work mapping disadvantaged communities that people have turning to food banks and charities for advice and help. We need to connect to organisations in the Wessex region to give us a more complete picture of the impact of higher living costs on people’s lives and health.
People may feel embarrassed to talk about debt and mental health but it’s only by hearing about their experiences that we can uncover some of the answers that we as a society need. Perhaps with that evidence we can better support councils and the government to help those people in need.”
Any organisations or individuals who would be interested in helping out can email the Project direct at MyBills@soton.ac.uk
Notes for editors
This research is funded by the National Institute of Health Research, Applied Research Collaboration Wessex. This carries our health and social care research together with partners and with the support of patients and the public. The aims is to make life better and healthier for communities.