How the cost of living crisis affects our mental health

The Cost of Living Dilemma:

The cost of living crisis is a term that describes the situation where people are struggling to afford the basic necessities of life, such as food, housing, energy, transport, and health care. The cost of living crisis has been affecting millions of people in the UK for more than a year, and it shows no signs of easing. In fact, it is expected to worsen in the coming months, as inflation rises, wages stagnate, and social security benefits are cut.

The Cost of Living and Mental Health:

The cost of living crisis is not only a financial problem, but also a mental health problem. According to a recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation¹, 59% of UK adults say that the cost of living crisis has had a negative impact on their mental health, such as leaving them feeling anxious, depressed, or hopeless. For some people, the psychological impact has been particularly acute, with more than 1 in 5 (21%) saying they have felt “unable to cope” due to rising costs.

The link between financial stress and mental health is well-established by research. Financial stress can increase the risk of developing or worsening mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts². Financial stress can also affect people’s ability to cope with other life challenges, such as work, relationships, and physical health. Financial stress can also create a vicious cycle, where poor mental health makes it harder to manage money, which in turn worsens mental health. Cycles like these are hard to escape and, unfortunately, are becoming far more common.

How do we fix the problem?

Protecting our mental health during the Cost of Living Crisis is far from easy — sometimes it’s not one big solution, but a combination of small steps to help us manage. Here are some tips that may help

  • Seek help if you are struggling with money or mental health. There are many organisations and services that can offer advice, support, and practical assistance. You can also talk to your GP, a mental health professional, or a trusted friend or family member. Remember, you are not alone, and there is no shame in asking for help.
  • Plan and budget your finances. Having a clear picture of your income and expenses can help you feel more in control and reduce anxiety. You can use online tools, apps, or spreadsheets to track your spending and savings. You can also look for ways to reduce your costs, such as switching energy suppliers, shopping around for cheaper deals, or applying for discounts or grants.
  • Take care of your physical health. Your physical health and mental health are closely connected, so it is important to look after both. Try to eat a balanced diet, drink enough water, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. These habits can boost your mood, energy and resilience. You can also avoid or limit alcohol, tobacco, and other substances that can harm your health and worsen your mental state.
  • Do things that make you happy. Even when times are tough, it is important to find joy and meaning in life. You can do this by engaging in hobbies, interests, or activities that you enjoy, such as reading, gardening, cooking, or playing games. You can also spend time with people who make you feel good, such as friends, family, or community groups. You can also practice gratitude, mindfulness, or meditation, which can help you appreciate what you have and cope with stress.

The cost of living crisis is a serious and urgent issue that affects our mental health. We need action to address the root causes of the crisis, such as low wages, high prices, and inadequate social security. We also need the government to ensure that their decisions benefit people’s mental health, especially those most at risk of financial strain. But until that happens, we can also take steps to protect our own mental health and support each other.

Here at Smart TMS, we’re committed to providing an open, inclusive space for our patients to discuss their mental health. If the cost of living crisis is impacting you, speak to your practitioner and see what support they can provide.


  1. Office for National Statistics (2022). Cost of Living and Depression in adults, Great Britain – Office for National Statistics. [online] Available at:
  2. Mental Health Foundation (2023). Cost-of-living and mental health. [online] Available at:
  3. Bing. (n.d.). UK cost of living and mental health. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Mar. 2024].
  4. Mcdaid, D. (2022). Mental health problems cost UK economy at least £118 billion a year – new research. [online] London School of Economics and Political Science. Available at:
  5. Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. (n.d.). Cost of living crisis effect on mental health – Money and Mental Health. [online] Available at:
  6. Mental Health Foundation (2022). Mental Health Problems Cost UK Economy at Least GBP 118 Billion a Year – New Research. [online] Available at: