Embargoed until: 1 April 2010
Ahead of the forthcoming Mental Health Week, poverty charity Elizabeth Finn Care and Roehampton University reveal new research highlighting a staggering rise in mental health illness among UK workers, directly attributable to worries related to the economic downturn.
The study shows that an alarming 47% of people have experienced depressive symptoms* during the recession – some four-to-five times higher than levels recorded amongst the general population before the slump.
Shockingly, the research shows that the number of people struggling with mental health illness in the UK, directly related to the recession, is 20-to-30 times higher than the levels of depressive symptoms seen in individuals suffering from chronic diseases.
Elizabeth Finn Care is deeply concerned as the findings come at a time of consistent funding cuts to mental health services, with support centres being closed down across the country and further 'efficiency' cuts around mental health hinted at by the Department of Health following last week's Budget.
Malcolm Tyndall, Director at Elizabeth Finn Care, said that the issue of mental health is not solely about a duty of care to individuals who have seen their health affected by the recession, but that there are also urgent economic reasons that the Government needs to take this report seriously.
"We already know that the cost of mental health problems to business before the recession was over £1,000 per employee per year or up to £26 billion across the UK economy**. If this report demonstrates anything, it is now not the time to cut funding in this area, as is already happening in some health authorities. If the Government can not be persuaded to ensure funding out of
a duty of care to those who have been affected, perhaps it will be persuaded by the negative economic impact this could have on already struggling businesses due to lost work days and falls in productivity."
Of those who have lost their jobs over the past year, 71% have suffered depressive symptoms. Furthermore, the figures show that people in the middle Social Economic Status (SES) groups are more likely to suffer from depression if they lose their jobs (59.8%), compared to those in the lower SES groups (44.9%) and the higher SES groups (46.7%).
Meanwhile, young people (aged 16 to 30 years) are more likely to be suffering from depressive symptoms than any other age group in the recession, with 43% suffering from anxiety and 45% from stress. This is perhaps unsurprising when one considers how disproportionately the young have been affected by this recession. Recent research by the charity showed that 1 in 20 unemployed young people had contemplated suicide because of their lack of work.
Elizabeth Finn Care, which helps people who have fallen into poverty through unexpected changes to their circumstances, including mental and physical illness, currently supports over 2,000 households of whom 35% have a mental health problem – including depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The charity offers financial help through its grant-giving department, as well as emotional support provided by a strong network of volunteers. In addition, Turn2us, part of the Elizabeth Finn Group, helps people to maximise their income by checking benefit entitlement and searching for grants, through a website and helpline.
Principal Lecturer Dr Joerg Huber of Roehampton University, said: "We chose to partner with Elizabeth Finn Care as we believe mental health research has been badly neglected in comparison to studies into physical health. What makes our findings worrying is the high percentage of people reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. This applies even more so to those who have lost their job or experienced a major loss of income.
"Given the continued economic challenges these individuals are exposed to and the acknowledgement by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence that depression is frequently not noticed during visits to GP practices, these symptoms may become chronic which will create a vicious cycle of depression, related disability and an inability to work."
***Exclusive Interview Opportunities***
Elizabeth Finn Care has case studies available for interview to speak about how financial hardship has affected their mental health.
Malcolm Tyndall, Director and Rob Tolan, Head of Policy & Research at Elizabeth Finn Care are both available for interview to speak about the research.
Principal Lecturer Dr Joerg Huber of Roehampton University is also available to speak about the findings.
For further information and interviews, please contact:
Kellie Smith, Senior Press Officer. Telephone: 020 8834 9263. Mobile: 07783 435 746 or email email@example.com.
Or Laura Johnston, Press Officer. Telephone: 020 8834 9260. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hythe House, 200 Shepherds Bush Road, London, W6 7NL
Notes to Editors:
*Depressive symptoms include anxiety, stress and depression
**Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2007)
The Elizabeth Finn Care and Roehampton University study, entitled 'Mental health in recently impoverished professionals: a UK wide survey', was carried out amongst 1,087 participants in the UK between 7th August 2009 and 31st December 2009. The academic paper is due for publication in 2010.
Elizabeth Finn Care