cost of living

It’s no secret that the impact of the pandemic has been hard-hitting and long-lasting for people all around the world. Restrictions may have been lifted, but remnants of a struggling economy and increases in poor mental health among the population remain. One of the major realisations born from the pandemic has been the critical impact external factors have on our mental health. 

There are countless external factors that can play a role in mental health, but we’ll be focusing on the cost-of-living crisis for this article.  

The cost-of-living crisis refers to the scenario in which the average household income is not keeping up with the rise in cost of everyday essentials. Despite inflation rates gradually coming down and the numerous packages of support provided by the government, the cost-of-living crisis remains unprecedented, and its impact is predicted to continue for years to come.  

There are 3 main components of everyday essentials that have been hit the hardest by this crisis: food, housing, and utilities, with each of these components having direct ties to mental health and wellbeing.  

Let’s explore these components and their ties to mental health further.  

Everyone knows we need food to survive, but what is less widely known is the damaging effects a poor diet can have on mental health. What we eat is directly linked to the brain and its function. In fact, the brain consumes 20% of our daily intake of calories as fuel to control and regulate the body’s vital functions, therefore, an inadequate or minimised diet can aggravate mood disorders, including anxiety and depression, as well as other neuropsychiatric conditions. Increasing evidence shows a high protein diet supports mental health because protein contains amino acids –chemicals which the brain needs to produce neurotransmitters, and neurotransmitters are chemicals that help regulate thoughts and feelings. 

With food prices being one of the most significant contributors to UK’s overall rate of inflation and research showing that as many as one in three people have recently skipped meals or have been pushed to buy unhealthy food because of its lower cost, many families are finding themselves lacking proper nutrition, thus exacerbating poor mental health. 

cost of living

We all need a place where we feel safe and secure; a place that protects, shelters, and encourages growth. For most people, that place is what we call home. Those without homes are faced with limited chances to earn income, limited or no access to healthcare, social isolation, increased risk of victimisation, as well as chemical dependency and numerous other negative impacts. 

Privately rented prices continued to grow at record high rates in all UK countries in the year and costs of buying a house have increased as well. 42% of adults who pay mortgage or rent report that they are finding it very or somewhat difficult to afford the payments, made evident by a three times higher proportion of payments made by Direct Debit failing due to insufficient funds. 

The cost-of-living crisis has forced many individuals to envision their lives without a home because for many, the potential of losing their housing is frighteningly real. The toll that takes on one’s mental health is immeasurable.  

cost of living

Can you imagine surviving the winter months with no heat? Or the challenge of providing for your family with no electricity? What would happen if you worked a remote job that required internet access to remain employed? If you were unable to afford a telephone, how would that impact your life?  

Sadly, these are questions that are on the minds of many people who are struggling to survive the cost-of-living crisis.  

No heat means an increase in risk for illness. Our mental and physical health are so tightly linked that when we have problems with one, we’re likely to have problems with the other. This means that any risk to physical health, such as illnesses brought on by poor living conditions, become risks to mental health as well.  

No electricity means no access to devices many people rely on to earn a wage and many more rely on to remain in contact with those in their support circle. Having access to a working phone is critical –and by critical we’re not referring to the need to update a Facebook status or post a new selfie –by critical we mean the ability to maintain proper healthcare with tasks such as scheduling appointments and addressing pharmaceutical needs.  

And what about the importance of having a mode of communication should someone find themselves in crisis? What’s the point of implementing life-saving resources like suicide helplines if there’s no way for a person in crisis to access them?  

To keep our physical and mental health in optimal wellness, it’s crucial to be able to afford food that supports a healthy diet, housing that provides safety and security, and the utilities we rely on to accomplish everyday tasks. The cost-of-living crisis is threatening to eradicate the ability to achieve these necessities for many households across the board. And on top of that, resources aimed to aid those in need are dwindling due to the strain the cost-of-living crisis has put on these entities as well. Public services and charities alike are finding it difficult to keep up with the growing demand and as a result, less people can access vital support from what is often their very last option for assistance.  

It all seems so hopeless for many. But there is always hope.  

Though most real, impactful change rests with government officials, there are small measures that can be implemented to cushion the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. We won’t go into detail on money saving tips because most people have already dug into the well of how-to’s when it comes to saving money back when the cost-of-living crisis began to take hold.  

Let’s face it, we’re far past clipping coupons and earning loyalty card points to provide any sort of relief.  

However, if you’re looking for ways to save money or are interested in learning more about budgeting your money, there are tools available to help. You could check out Free and impartial help with money, backed by the government | MoneyHelper and Cost of living support: Overview – GOV.UK ( for further information. 

Aside from the small measures to assist with money management, there are steps you can take to improve your mental wellbeing during these uncertain and difficult times.  

  • Make a list of current struggles/worries and decide which ones are in your control and which ones are not. Focus your energy on the things you can change. 
  • Talk openly and honestly about your feelings, thoughts and worries. It will often lessen the weight of your burdens and connect you with others who are going through similar situations 
  • Take time for yourself. No matter how tough finances get or how busy you are trying to make everything come together, self-care should always make an appearance on your priority list. You deserve that time to unwind and to do something you love! 
  • Be kind to yourself. Notice when you are engaging in negative self-talk and make a conscious effort to change the language to a positive, compassionate tone.  
  • Lean on your support system. There is no shame in asking for help. We are stronger together. 

If you need support and don’t know where to turn to, reach out to us at PoetsIN. We have a variety of resources and services available to help.  

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