People hurt by economic downturn could be inviting more trouble for themselves by isolating themselves, a UK nonprofit has warned.
The YouGov survey, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, shows that the nation is adapting in the clutches of the credit crunch. Worry and stress are widespread but many people are taking a practical approach, and in most cases the lifestyle changes they are making - such as being more physically active and preparing meals from scratch - are good for mental health, according to the research charity.
But a third (34%) of respondents say they are cutting back or planning to cut back on going out with friends because of the credit crunch. Friendships are vital for good mental health and the charity warns people against risking isolation in the face of money worries.1 in 5 people (20%) said they are organising free activities with friends, such as walks and bike rides. The Foundation welcomed this finding.
The survey reveals that 8 in 10 British adults are worried about the impact of the current financial climate on their finances (80%) and two-thirds say that money worries are always at the back of their mind (61%). Almost twice as many people aged 18-24 are stressed by financial woes as those aged 55-plus (40% in comparison to 22%). And there are gender differences - 1 in 4 men (23%) say they have no money anxieties at all, in comparison to only 1 in 10 women (13%).
Rising fuel (76%) and food (70%) prices are people's biggest economic worries while 1 in 3 are apprehensive about repaying credit cards, loans and other debts. 1 in 5 are concerned about their mortgage repayments - the same number as those worried about not being able to buy clothes, shoes and gadgets. Speaking about the research findings, Celia Richardson at the Mental Health Foundation, said: "As the economic slump begins to affect everything from food prices to mortgage repayments, this research shows that financial worries are a source of stress for many. But people are making changes to the way they live - like growing their own fruit and vegetables, and walking and cycling more. Not only is this evidence that people are adapting well to change, but some of their altered habits are actually good for mental health." "For many people, particularly the younger generations, this may be the first time they've been surrounded by worrying talk of serious recession. By spending less, people can help themselves avoid serious debt, which can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. But they need to replace shopping and spending with other activities they enjoy and shouldn't isolate themselves from friends."
The credit crunch can't touch many of the things that keep people feeling good - seeing friends, keeping active and eating healthily. The charity recommends the following to protect your mental wellbeing, and your bank balance -
Cook dinner with your friends as an alternative to dining out - or take along a dish each to share
Grow your own food - indoors or out
Make your own lunch
Cycle or walk rather than use a car or public transport
Play games with family and friends - charades in the living room or frisbee in the park
Evidence shows that eating well, keeping active and keeping in touch with friends are all key to good mental health.
The charity says people should seek help if worry and stress are interfering with their daily life and has provided contact details on its website - http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk