Release the pressure
We are all worried about the rising cost of living. In Northern Ireland we’re already dealing with high rates of fuel poverty, significant child poverty and a housing crisis. And we don’t have a government to steer us through the current economic storm.
We surveyed people to find out how the rising cost of living makes them feel and how it’ll impact their ability to do the things that keep them well.
Money worries don’t mean people only cut back on luxuries. People are cutting back on necessities and on the things they need to do in order to stay well – like connecting with friends and family, going to health and care appointments, taking part in physical exercise and taking time for self-care.
The impact of the rising cost of living on our ability to do what keeps us well
- 79% of people said the cost-of-living crisis was having a negative impact on their mental health – 29% said the negative impact was significant
- 46% of people have asked for help or support – 10% have talked to their GP about it and 24% of 16-24 year olds have talked to their GP about it
- 66% are anxious about their finances over the next 12 months – 25% are very anxious
- 52% are going to find it hard to afford essential items like food, fuel and clothing – 9% said it will be really difficult/impossible
- 36% of people will find it hard to attend health appointments like dentists or opticians – 11% said it would be impossible
- 46% of respondents will find it hard to meet up with friends and family – 9% said this would be impossible
- 39% of people will find it hard to take part in physical activity like gym or team sports – 19% said it would be impossible
- 55% of people will find it hard to take part in self-care activities like hair, nails, complementary therapy – 19% said it would be impossible
- 66% of people will find it hard to afford holidays or days out – this rises to 74% in households with children
It’s time to release the pressure
The economic situation is creating enormous pressure on all of us, regardless of age, location or background. The gauge is red.
We need to release the pressure on our lives, our families and our communities. This World Mental Health Day we are sharing steps to move the gauge from red to amber.
There are steps we can all take to relieve feelings of anxiety and worry. But individuals can only do so much. Poverty and inequality are structural issues. We need government to design structural solutions to alleviate their effects and turn the pressure gauge green.
People in Northern Ireland were struggling long before the current economic difficulties. We have higher fuel poverty and economic inactivity rates than other jurisdictions. One in four children here lives in poverty. And our rents are rising faster than they are elsewhere.
Now, inflation has hit its highest point in 40 years, interest rates are on the rise and the average household has £45 less per week to spend than it did last year.
Negative stories relating to the economy dominate the news. Families, people and communities are facing difficulties in making ends meet.
Not only are people struggling to buy necessities, our recent research tells us that they will have less to spend on the things that keep them well – like meeting family and friends, attending medical appointments, self-care, taking part in physical activity and days out.
All of these factors combine to increase worry and anxiety, which creates pressure on our minds and bodies. In our recent survey, 79% of respondents said that their mental health and wellbeing had been negatively affected by the rising cost of living.
We need to release the pressure.
There are some things that we can all do to help relieve feelings of anxiety and worry:
- Reach out to get the help that’s available.
- Make sure that you have the right information on entitlements, support and resources, which can help you save money.
- Find out how you can stay informed but not overwhelmed by the news.
- Make time to find simple, low-cost ways to build the 5 Steps to Wellbeing into your daily routine.
The resources on this page will help to release the pressure.
Individuals can only do so much.
Poverty and inequality are structural issues. And we need government to design structural solutions to alleviate their effects.
That’s why we’re asking politicians to release the pressure by:
- Forming a functioning Northern Ireland Executive, which must prioritise the cost-of-living crisis.
- Agreeing a three-year Budget, with a particular focus on alleviating poverty and strong support for public services
- Agreeing Northern Ireland-specific actions in areas such as social welfare, skills, employment and support for small and medium enterprises.
- Establishing direct financial support for people facing overwhelming increases in the cost of necessities.
- Implementing a fully funded mental health strategy, to ensure services can respond to demand.
Managing the rising cost of living
We understand the mental health pressures facing not only ourselves but those around us as the cost of living increases. That is why we have some practical tips and advice on looking after your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those you care about. See below more information:
Getting help to manage the rising cost of living
If you or someone you know is struggling, there are people here to support.
- Talk to your GP if you are worried or distressed
- For immediate help call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000
Visit Community Wellbeing for tips and information on the services that can help you manage the rising cost of living, as well as general mental health and wellbeing advice.
Our advocates can support you
with information and guidance around mental health concerns. Give our Advocacy for All team a call on 0808 189 0036 or talk to our advocates using the live chat below (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm)
Feeling the pressure
We’ve partnered with Carers NI, the Trussell Trust and Age NI to raise awareness of the impact of the rising cost of living on people across Northern Ireland.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing stories of how the rising cost of living is adding to the pressures already felt by the people who use our services.