THE SAMARITANS, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and over a dozen mental health organisations and charities have written an open letter to the Prime Minister about the disproportionate impact the cost of living is having on people’s mental health.

Dated 25 November, the letter reads:

“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 per cent of areas in the UK are more than twice as likely to die from suicide than those living in the wealthiest 10 per cent 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. NInety-four per cent 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 a 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, Mental Health First Aid England

Sophie Cortlett, Mind

Brian Dow, Mental Health UK

Sean Duggan, Mental Health Network, NHS Confederation

Akiko Hart, National Survivor User Network

Victoria Hornby, Mental Health Innovations

Dr Sarah Hughes, Centre for Mental Health

Poppy Jaman, 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, Anna Freud Centre

Rosie Tressler, Student Minds

Mark Winstanley, Rethink Mental Illness

* Source: The Samaritans