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Mental health and poverty: mental health leaders call for more action to tackle the rising cost of living

Our Chief Executive and leaders from across the mental health sector have penned an open letter calling on the Prime Minister to do more to tackle the cost of living crisis. The letter highlights the significant impact that poverty has on mental health, especially the mental health of children. Read the full letter, and list of signatories, below.

Hands holding long receipt

In the UK the cost-of-living crisis runs deep in every community and is having a significant impact on mental health.

High levels of inflation affect everyone as the price of necessities including food and energy increase. However, the impact is not felt equally. We know those already experiencing inequality, poverty and hardship are being hardest hit. And poverty is the single biggest driver of poor mental health in children.

We also know that people living in the most deprived 10% of areas in the UK are more than twice as likely to die from suicide than those living in the wealthiest 10% of areas.

In 2022 the Trussell Trust who provide emergency support to people in crisis issued 1.3 million food parcels between April and September. 94% of people accessing emergency food parcels are experiencing destitution. That means they are well below the poverty line and cannot afford the essentials to eat, stay warm and dry, and keep clean.

This should worry us all. It is a shameful and unnecessary situation in the UK. As leaders of mental health organisations there is growing demand for our services. We will, of course, continue to do our absolute best to provide the necessary support.

But we want to be crystal clear: the first intervention to reduce mental ill health and prevent suicide is to ensure every household has the means to be safe and warm with enough to eat. We urge the Prime Minister to act with speed and compassion to tackle the root causes of destitution and in doing so prevent suicide and an inevitable rise in mental ill health.

Julie Bentley, Samaritans

Simon Blake OBE, Mental Health First Aid England

Sophie Corlett, Mind

Brian Dow, Mental Health UK

Sean Duggan OBE, Mental Health Network, NHS Confederation

Akiko Hart, National Survivor User Network

Victoria Hornby OBE, Mental Health Innovations

Dr Sarah Hughes, Centre for Mental Health

Poppy Jaman OBE, MindForward Alliance

Dr Adrian James, Royal College of Psychiatrists

Tom Madders, Young Minds

Chris Martin, The Mix

Paula Ojok, Helplines Partnership

Kathy Roberts, Association of Mental Health Providers

Catherine Roche, Place2Be

Mark Rowland, Mental Health Foundation

Michael Samuel MBE, Anna Freud Centre

Rosie Tressler OBE, Student Minds

Mark Winstanley, Rethink Mental Illness

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