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Mental health Burden of Increased Living costs: Local Support (My BILLS)

Principal investigators: Dr. Dianna Smith, Associate Professor, School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton and Dr Thomas Richardson, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Southampton.

Co-investigator: Prof Nisreen Alwan, Associate Professor in Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Southampton.

Partners: Southern Health Foundation NHS trust, iTalk (Hampshire IAPT), Talking Change (Portsmouth IAPT Solent NHS Trust), Southampton Citizens Advice Bureau, Portsmouth Citizens Advice Bureau, Southampton City Council, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council.

Starts: 01/01/2023 (18 months)

Background: Poverty can have a significant impact on health. There is lots of research which suggests that being in debt or struggling to pay the bills can lead to poor mental health such as problems with depression and anxiety. There is currently a cost-of-living crisis with record inflation and energy bills.

Aim: This research will analyse the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the mental health of the adults in Hampshire. It will also identify the best pathways for support for people struggling with both mental health and financial problems.

Design & Methods: There will be several methods used here. We will interview staff at local financial advice and NHS mental health services for their views. We will use existing data from the NHS and other services about demand for services and if this has changed over recent months with the cost-of-living crisis. We will also interview patients with lived experience about their views. We will conduct new questionnaire-based survey to try to look at the impact of financial problems on mental health over time. Finally, we will look at what the existing research tells us about how the relationship between financial problems and mental health, and if this impacts certain groups of people more strongly than others.

Patient & Public Involvement: We will involve those with lived experience and members of the public in the design of our research. They will also form part of a steering group to oversee our work. Finally, they will help us to develop recommendations about local support and how to share the outcomes of our research.

Dissemination: We will write up our findings in academic journals and present them at conferences. We will present our finding to the public at an open free event. We will also have a free report summarising the findings, and flyers and videos summarising the research in an accessible way.

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