New survey finds high levels of anxiety and worry across Northern Ireland due to concerns about money

Location: Northern Ireland

30th Nov 2022

This content mentions anxiety and trauma, which some people may find triggering.

  • More than 4 in 10 people have been anxious (44%) and/or worried (41%) about their finances in the past month 
  • More than half of younger people (aged 18 to 45) have been anxious (55%), worried (48%) or angry (33%) about their finances
  • The Mental Health Foundation asks for urgent action to help prevent a significant rise in mental health problems

The population of Northern Ireland is reporting widespread stress and anxiety in response to concerns about their finances says a new survey released this week by the Mental Health Foundation.

The survey of 1498 adults living in Northern Ireland, aged 18 and over, was conducted by LucidTalk in November 2022.

Almost half of the people surveyed were anxious (44%) or worried (41%) about their money situation, with this number rising for the younger age group (18 to 45-year-olds) to over half (55% anxious, 48% worried, 33% angry).

The charity says action needs to be taken to prevent a rise in mental health problems across Northern Ireland. Action should ensure people will be protected from the negative impact of both the cost-of-living crisis and potential cuts to public services.

This includes the UK Government immediately implementing the Energy Support Payments for Northern Ireland and giving people certainty on when they will receive assistance.

Person holding coins

When asked what would reduce worry about their financial situation, 41% said flexibility from energy companies, while nearly 20% said an increase in social security benefits and affordable transport would help.

The charity explained that if people are struggling to meet their essential needs, such as a warm home and enough healthy food for their families, a significant rise in mental health problems is likely as the burden of financial strain continues to take its toll.

Karen Hall, Head of Northern Ireland for the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“Our findings are a warning sign of the mental health consequences of the cost-of-living crisis. With half of the people (56%) worried about turning their heating on due to financial concerns, we need urgent action to support people across Northern Ireland.

Whilst the inflationary rise in some social security benefits in the Autumn Statement last week will help, it does not go far enough. Increasing social security benefits and making changes to the system, such as reducing the waiting time for Universal Credit, would make a difference.”

Evidence has repeatedly shown that financial strain and poverty are key contributors to mental health problems. The Foundation warns that the number of people experiencing poor mental health will likely increase as more people struggle to make ends meet.

Karen continued:

“Our community organisations are already responding, but they need support. Increasing the capacity of organisations that provide debt services and community services will enable people to stay connected and get support when they need it.

Those providing public services also need to ensure that they are providing training and support to their staff, who often work with people who have experienced trauma.

Other measures we ask for include maintaining and extending free or subsidised public transport to allow people to connect with friends and family.

The Budget announced last week by the Secretary of State highlights the pressures on government spending here. We are asking for the funding required for the delivery of the Mental Health Strategy to be prioritised in the Department of Health allocation, particularly the funding for the Early Intervention and Prevention Action Plan.”

Earlier this year, the Mental Health Foundation published research with the London School of Economics and Political Science, which put the cost of mental health problems to the NI economy at £3.4 billion annually.

While the Mental Health Foundation calls for urgent action, it has also published guidance for people who are experiencing financial strain.


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Notes to editors

“NI polling was carried out by Belfast-based polling and market research company LucidTalk. The project was carried out online for a period of 4 days from 4 to 7 November 2022.

3351 full responses were received, and a data auditing process was carried out to ensure all completed poll surveys were genuine 'one-person, one-vote' responses and to ensure a NI representative sample. This resulted in 1,498 responses being considered in terms of the final base dataset results.

This 1498 sample was balanced and representative of NI opinion to within an error of only +/-2.3%.” - LucidTalk

About the Mental Health Foundation

  • The Mental Health Foundation has been the home of Mental Health Awareness Week since 2001.
  • Our vision is for good mental health for all.
  • The Mental Health Foundation works to prevent mental health problems.
  • We drive change towards a mentally healthy society for all and support communities, families and individuals to lead mentally healthy lives with a particular focus on those at greatest risk of poor mental health.
  • Mental Health Foundation is committed to promoting an anti-racist, inclusive community where we can all be ourselves.
  • The Mental Health Foundation relies on voluntary donations to provide evidence-based advice and carry out vital work to prevent poor mental health.

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