People have been feeling the pinch with higher interest rates, bills and food costs over the last year.
In Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight with a mixture of cities and rural towns and communities the picture can vary, so a team of scientists from the University of Southampton are looking to find out how the cost of living is impacting on people's mental health.
The research project called MyBILLS wants to hear from people in the region. Previous research by the University revealed that people facing financial difficulties are more likely to experience mental ill health.
Project co-lead Dr Thomas Richardson, an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Southampton, said: “We know that financial difficulties can really impact mental health and vice versa. We hope 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. We want anyone age 18 and above to take part: whether you aqree worried about money or your mental health or not”
The team will also be working with local charities and organisations which support mental health and provide financial advice to identify current trends and find solutions which help more people access support available.
“People may feel embarrassed to talk about debt and mental health but it’s only by hearing about their experiences that we uncover the answers that we as a society need,” added Associate Professor of Health Geography Dianna Smith, also from the University of Southampton.
“We know from our previous work that people are turning to food banks and charities for advice and help. We need to connect to organisations in the region to give us a more complete picture of the impact of higher living costs on people’s lives and health – and perhaps with that evidence we can better support councils and the government to help those people in need.”
The study has been funded the National Institute of Health Research's applied research collaboration in Wessex to improve the life and health of communities in the region.