From the pandemic to the cost of living crisis, we’ve been through a lot in the past few years – and a new study has found that it’s having a seismic impact on our mental health.
New research from mental health charity Mind has found that nearly four in five Britons (78%) say their mental health has been affected by the cost of living crisis.
Mind is encouraging people who need to speak about their mental health, to reach out to their support networks this Time to Talk Day, which falls on 2 February - and the hashtag #TimeToTalkDay is even trending on Twitter to help encourage people to speak to others.
It comes as the research found that 18% of the 5,000 survey respondents said that the cost of living crisis has decreased how often they are able to make space to speak about their mental health, and 46% said that the reason for this is because “everyone is struggling now and they don’t want to burden others”.
“It’s vital we make space in the day for a conversation about mental health. Yet so many of us are finding that looking after our mental health has taken a back seat,” Sarah Hughes, chief executive of Mind said in a statement.
“Worryingly, we fear stigma if we speak up, we can no longer afford to access the things or places that keep us mentally well, or we don’t want to be a burden on others. We know that talking about our mental health and listening to others speak about their experiences can help us feel less alone, more able to cope, and encouraged to seek support if we need to.”
The research from Mind found that a quarter of people can no longer afford social activities that help them stay mentally well, while one in four (25%) are having to work longer hours due to rising living costs.
Nearly one in five people (16%) cannot afford to contact their support network over phone or text to have conversations about their mental health, and 18% of people can’t afford to travel and see their regular support networks.
Mind is encouraging people who need to speak about their mental health, to reach out to their support networks this Time to Talk Day, which falls on 2 February.
How to open up about your mental health
If you are struggling, the best thing you can do is open up to someone so you know you’re not alone.
Mind suggests speaking to friends and family, whether this is a face-to-face conversation, over the phone, or writing them a letter or email.
It also might be useful to practise what you want to say to them first and make some notes, or even note down a scene in a TV series or movie that you’ve seen to show them and explain that that is how you’re feeling.
The charity also says it’s best not to expect too much from them, but know that opening up is the best thing you can do and plan to have more conversations with them and your wider support network.
You can also speak to someone at Mind by calling their infoline on 0300 123 3393, or visiting their website to use the online chat service.
If you are thinking about reaching out to a friend, or you want to check on someone, charity YoungMinds has suggested a message that could be sent.
"This #TimeToTalkDay, send this message to someone you’re close to," the charity tweeted. "Talking about our mental health doesn’t have to feel heavy. It can simply be regular conversations about how you’re really feeling. Let’s get talking."
This #TimeToTalkDay, send this message to someone you’re close to. Talking about our mental health doesn’t have to feel heavy. It can simply be regular conversations about how you’re really feeling. Let’s get talking. pic.twitter.com/PGxbRwoYKI
— YoungMinds (@YoungMindsUK) February 2, 2023
The message reads: "Hey, I was thinking about you so I thought I'd get in touch. How are you? How have you been feeling lately?"
For advice on what to say if someone tells you they're having a difficult time, see below.
Watch: Government announces rapid review of inpatient mental health services in England