20 percent of UK citizens report having had a mental health problem either currently or at some point in their life, according to a study conducted in 2016. Healthcare in the UK is funded by both public and private agencies; however, a majority of these resources come from public funds.
The amount of resources available for people suffering mental health problems is dwindling, as is cash to finance them. The government has been decreasing its expenditure on public mental health issues over the last twenty years, and cannot get in front of the mental health epidemic.
Over the past decade, there have been many factors that have led to the rising increase of mental health issues in the UK. If budgets were allocated to fix social issues such as the rise of unemployment and the housing crisis, it could also decrease their impact on mental health.
Unemployment Impact on Mental Health
The UK’s unemployment rate currently sits at 4.3 percent. Work plays a vital role in people’s lives and impacts their mental being greatly. For one, employment can provide access to insurance as well as monetary funds to seek professional help. There are limited resources for unemployed and low income, and without employment, some people may have to go without help. Secondly, having a job instills a sense of social status and identity, as well as a feeling of accomplishment and meaning in life. Without this awareness and identity, many people start to feel a low sense of self-worth, which is highly detrimental and can trigger mental health issues.
The Housing Crisis and Mental Health
Anyone living in the UK sees and feels the impact of the housing crisis. Lack of affordable housing, coupled with high rental prices and an ever-increasing population has led to crowding issues in some cities. According to one think tank based in the Republic of Ireland, where similar problems occur, it is estimated that it will take over 40 years to provide enough homes for people on Dublin’s housing list. This overcrowding has led to a landlord-controlled market and an increase of rents by 50 percent in the past four years.
According to the Department of Housing, there are many thousands of people homeless, due to the housing shortage and increasing rents. Many are kicked out of their homes every day, and this lack of control and massive life change becomes triggers for mental health issues. The housing crisis is increasing the risk of suicide across the country, and suicide and mental health hotlines are seeing a large increase in calls from people who are living in alternative homes, hostels, or on the streets.
In order to help UK citizens and provide them with the mental health support that they need, the country must first tackle the social issues that promote negative health. Once the country can alleviate the unemployment rate and housing crisis, then everyone can move forward to