Cost of living crisis: Samaritans taking thousands of calls from people worried about finances

·3-min read
The rise in energy bills will cause significant mental health issues for million. (PA)
The rise in energy bills will cause significant mental health issues for million. (PA)

The cost of living crisis could cause a massive impact on the nation's mental health, the Samaritans have warned in an urgent letter to the government.

The charity said they had more than 12,000 conversations in July with people citing finance or unemployment as the reason they were struggling with their mental health.

They said: "in the past, a squeeze on living standards, debt and recessions have led to a rise in mental health problems, demand for services, and lives lost to suicide.

"If we do not learn from the past and support people’s wellbeing, we risk history repeating itself.

The UK and much of Europe are currently suffering from spiralling inflation which has seen the cost of basic goods.

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Read more: Energy inefficient homes face £1,730 bills rise

Inflation in the UK is above 10% for the first time in decades.

This is mostly driven by the sharp rise in energy prices which has been caused by the war in Ukraine causing Europe to turn away from Russian gas.

The Resolution Foundation warned on Friday the coming months present the “terrifying” prospect of the biggest squeeze in living standards for a century.

The new prime minister will be under immediate pressure to announce cost of living support. (PA)
The new prime minister will be under immediate pressure to announce cost of living support. (PA)

Energy regulator Ofgem has confirmed an 80% rise in the energy price cap, which will mean the average household’s yearly bill will go from £1,971 to £3,549 from October.

This is on top of the previous 50% rise in April.

The government has already offered a universal £400 discount on energy bills, and one in four UK household will receive a total of £1,200 extra support.

Watch: Cost of living: State pensioners set to be left with less than £11 a day from April as energy bills soar

But the situation has got considerably worse since the package was announced earlier this year and the new prime minister is will be under significant pressure to announce further support when they enter office.

On top of this many public services are struggling with a rise in costs and soaring demand.

The Samaritans said: "Mental health services are already at breaking point. There are 1.5 million people already waiting, and the cost-of-living crisis could put our entire mental health system on the brink of collapse.

"Nobody who is struggling should be left without support."

They said the government needed to recommit to a mental health plan and suicide prevention strategy that tackles inequalities and ensure adequate support for people on the lowest incomes.

Institute of Health Equity (IHE) warned on Thursday that the UK is facing a "significant humanitarian crisis" without government intervention.

It is feared that thousands of extra deaths could occur and the health and development of up to 10 million children could be affected directly or indirectly by the increase in the cost of living.

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.