Social Justice

Millions of people at risk of 'toxic cycle' of long-term mental health and money problems

Martin Lewis's charity has found that people with long-term mental health problems earned an average of £3,360 less each year. They are also four times more likely to be behind on their bills

money and mental health

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Millions of people in the UK are at risk of being “sucked into the toxic cycle of long-term mental health problems and financial difficulty”, a charity has warned.

The Money and Mental Health Institute, which was founded by MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis, found that 800,000 people endured both mental health problems and long-term financial difficulties during the years from the start of the pandemic to the onset of the cost of living crisis.

An additional 3.4 million people experienced a combination of mental health problems and financial difficulties during various times in this period. The charity fears that, without increased support, these people could be at risk of facing both of these issues in the long term.

Conor D’Arcy, interim chief executive at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “With the cost of living crisis coming hot on the heels of the pandemic, the last four years have been a car crash for many people’s finances and mental health.

“Rates of mental health problems continue to be higher than before the pandemic, while the rising cost of food and other essentials have made finances a source of daily worry and anxiety. 

“The country is at an important crossroads. Continuing down the same track risks millions of us being sucked into the toxic cycle of long term mental health problems and financial difficulty. Not only would that be catastrophic for those affected, it would also be disastrous for the economy and NHS.”

The research highlights the struggles of people aged 25 to 54, who are most likely to be in full time work. Those with long-term mental health struggles were 11 times more likely to be out of work due to illness or disability than people without mental health problems.

People with long-term mental health problems earned an average of £3,360 less each year compared with those without any mental health concerns. They are also nine times as likely to have struggled financially and nearly four times as likely to be behind on bills.



The Money and Mental Health Institute is calling for a cross-government task force to implement a joined-up approach to money and mental health support. That includes making finances a consideration in all aspects of mental health prevention and treatment.

D’Arcy added: “This research has some important good news, though. Money and mental health problems are not inevitable – there is a way out, and preventing them cropping up in the first place is even better. But to really get to grips with this issue will require action. 

“The government needs to lead that work, by joining up support across vital services like the NHS, money advice as well as banks and energy firms. Without that, there’s a real risk that millions more people will face years of their lives being blighted by avoidable money and mental health problems.”

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

Where to get help if you are struggling with money and mental health

Call Samaritans for free on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org for useful resources and advice on coping if you are struggling with your mental health.

StepChange provides confidential and free expert advice on debt, as well as tips on budgeting, financial advice, and ways to prioritise your debts. 

Money Advice Trust operates a confidential national debtline which is available over the phone or via webchat.

Mental Health & Money Advice provides practical tips to lessen the strain of the financial crisis and maintain your mental wellbeing. 

Citizens Advice provides help to deal with problem debt, to avoid losing your home and to get back on top of your finances. 

MoneyHelper offers guidance to help you through the often-stressful situation of talking to a creditor about money you owe them, how to navigate credit and Buy Now Pay Later agreements, and other money concerns.

Find out more about getting help for debt here and for coping with mental health in the cost of living crisis here.

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