‘Vicious cycle!’ Pensioners at risk of ‘additional pressures’ on income urged to seek help

Recent analysis by Age UK has determined that around two million older households across the UK will not be able to afford essential spending this year. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 15 percent of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental health disorder. In light of this, experts are sharing how falling into money problems can lead to many people, including pensioners, seeing their mental health worsen.

Laura Peters, the head of Mental Health and Money Advice, Mental Health UK, spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk about the state of pensioner mental health.

Ms Peters explained: “It’s really encouraging that older people’s mental health was included in the NHS Long Term Plan. There’s been a particular effort to promote talking therapies in the wake of the pandemic, when people experienced higher levels of isolation and disruption to their daily routine.

“Older generations potentially have different attitudes to mental health and may be less comfortable or accustomed to asking for dedicated help and support from their GP, particularly if physical health problems take precedent as they age.

“That’s why it’s especially important that they are encouraged to prioritise their wellbeing, and support is available to help them manage their mental health and have a good quality of life.”

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More specifically, the mental health expert shared how poor mental health often manifests in exacerbating the financial woes of older people.

She added: “Money worries can make existing mental health problems worse or cause new ones, whatever your age.

“Many pensioners will be living on a low fixed income and may struggle to manage unexpected bills, or they may require additional support with health and care needs which might place additional pressure on their finances and mental wellbeing.

“This can manifest in a number of ways, for example impacting their quality of sleep or leading them to be more isolated.

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“In fact, the WHO says the prevalence of depression and anxiety spiked by 25 percent during the first year of the pandemic. And now, during the cost-of-living crisis, stats are even starker.

“According to Money and Mental Health Policy Institute data, among people whose bills have gone up, nine in 10 say they feel anxious, and two-thirds feel depressed.

“It’s little wonder. Both COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis have a major impact not just on quality of life, but what we can or cannot do on a day-to-day basis. This and worrying about money can have a significant effect on our wellbeing.”

Furthermore, Dr Gebrase shared that those with mental health issues are three and a half times more likely to be in debt, which proves to be a vicious cycle to break from.

She added: “Mental illness can make it harder to earn money, manage your spending, or ask for help. In turn, this often leads to financial problems, which can cause or exacerbate stress and anxiety.

“In a Money and Mental Health Policy Institute survey, a third said their mental health problems made their financial situation worse.

“Money trouble also reduces the recovery rate for mental illness – people in problem debt who have depression are more than four times more likely to have the condition 18-months later, versus people without financial problems. In England, over 100,000 who are in problem debt attempt suicide each year.”

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.