A third of adults in Wales surveyed (33%) never make space in their day or the time to speak about their mental health. And the cost of living crisis, on top of the long-lasting impact of the pandemic, is affecting people’s ability to make space and manage their mental health. The mental health of more than eight in ten (83%) in Wales surveyed has been affected by the cost of living crisis.
The poll1 was conducted as part of Time to Talk Day, the nation’s biggest conversation about mental health. It aims to spark millions of conversations about mental health in communities, schools, homes, workplaces and online.
Worryingly, nearly a fifth (18%) in Wales are also reporting the cost of living crisis is reducing how often they are able to make space to have a conversation about mental health. Over half (55%) of these respondents said that their reason for fewer conversations is that everyone is struggling right now and they don't want to burden others.
Previous research by Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and Co-op for Time to Talk Day 2022 found that almost half (44%) said that their mental health had got worse as a result of the pandemic and 37 per cent blamed money worries. The cumulative effect of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis is taking its toll on the nation’s mental health.
Activities like Time to Talk Day are helping, by providing tips and resources for having those conversations. The latest research found that in Wales:
- Two in five people (40%) say more knowledge and understanding around mental health would make it easier to talk about mental health.
- A third (33%) would welcome tips to start a conversation.
- A quarter (26%) want someone in their local community who has the skills to offer support.
Yet the cost of living crisis threatens to significantly hinder our ability to continue with the everyday ways we usually look after our mental health. The survey also reveals that, of those in Wales for whom the cost of living crisis has caused a decrease in how they make space to have a conversation about their mental health:
- Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) can’t afford social activities that help them stay mentally well.
- A fifth (21%) are having to work longer hours so don’t have the time.
- A shocking 13% simply can’t afford to contact their support network to have these conversations (e.g. over phone, text, social media), showing the real impact of digital poverty.
- 15% can’t afford to travel to their usual support networks in communities.
And it’s feared the impact of the cost of living crisis on our mental health will become even worse – three fifths (63%) of respondents in Wales for whom the cost of living crisis has already caused a decrease in how they make space to have a conversation about their mental health, expect their mental health to continue to worsen as a result of the crisis.
Time to Talk Day 2023 is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness in England, See Me with SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) in Scotland, Inspire and Change Your Mind in Northern Ireland and Time to Change Wales. It is being delivered in partnership with Co-op as part of a shared ambition to reach those who wouldn’t usually engage with mental health support.
Dominic, 39, from Cardiff, lives with depression, anxiety and PTSD and discusses how the cost of living crisis has impacted his mental health:
“The cost of living crisis has massively impacted my ability to cope with my mental health conditions and has added to them. Money worries has led me to stop buying things like mental health books and subscribing to mental health podcasts as I am now more worried than ever about putting enough money aside to pay for my upcoming bills. I fear that if nothing changes or if help no longer exists that it’ll ultimately push me further towards becoming unwell. Currently my work, counselling and medication are the things that are supporting my mental health struggles.
“The main barriers that I face are the many different stigmas that surround mental health. The mental health shaming that happens in today’s society needs to stop.
“I was told I would have to wait 7 months on the NHS to speak to a mental health professional, and because I couldn’t seek private treatment, I was lucky enough to receive support and guidance from a Welsh mental health charity.”
Lowri Wyn Jones, Programme Manager for Time to Change Wales said:
“Unfortunately, stigma is still an issue and there are worries that the cost of living crisis could make this worse. This is why we are urging everyone to use Time to Talk Day as an opportunity to break down barriers and have real and meaningful conversations about mental health.”
Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Member Participation, Co-op, said:
“With the cost of living crisis, and the ongoing impacts from the pandemic, it’s never been more important for us to be able to talk about how we’re feeling – and making connections in our community can play a key part in this. Our research shows a fifth of people rely on their communities for support, that’s why we’ve been working in partnership with Mind, Time to Change Wales, SAMH, Inspire and others to bring communities together to kickstart conversations this Time to Talk Day.”
The partners are supporting communities across the UK to encourage mental health conversations by providing free resources, including tips on how to have the conversation, and running a UK-wide awareness campaign. Every conversation matters and people are encouraged to make space in the day for a conversation about mental health. Whether that is texting a friend, chatting to a colleague or neighbour, or raising awareness in your community. This is a chance for all of us to talk, to listen, and to change lives.
In addition to supporting Time to Talk Day 2023, Co-op colleagues, members and customers have raised over £8m for Mind, the Scottish Association for Mental Health and Inspire. The partnership is funding mental wellbeing services in over 50 local communities across the UK. Over 22,000 people have received support from the services, so far.
For information about Time to Talk Day, including tips on starting the conversation, visit Time to Talk Day 2023
Follow the conversation on social media using #TimeToTalk