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Research into wellbeing and the recessionWellbeing and the recession: a UK wide insight into the effects of the downturn on the UK’s mental health

Research published in April 2010

The Policy and Research team commissioned Roehampton University to carry out a study looking at the link between mental health and the recession. The results highlighted a staggering rise in mental health conditions among UK workers, directly related to worries related to the UK's current economic situation.

Some 53% of people have experienced symptoms such as anxiety, stress and/or depression during the recession - that's four-to-five times higher than the levels recorded among the general population before the onset of the recession.

Why does this matter?

Depression and anxiety, if untreated, can go hand-in-hand with joblessness, pushing many people needlessly into poverty. Poor mental health can also lead to poor physical health, with stress, anxiety and depression over time increasing the risk of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular disease.

Given that this study points to an increase in the prevalence of poor mental health, it is vital that the necessary support is available to help people to carry on working who are experiencing health problems as a result of financial difficulties.

The way forward

Primary care services, such as GP surgeries, are likely deal with more people experiencing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Faced by intense pressure to reduce costs, the challenge for primary care trusts will be to determine what services to provide.

As a result of this research, Elizabeth Finn Care calls for:

  1. A commitment by the Government and NHS trusts to providing mental health services as a clinical priority, with a particular focus on ‘talking therapies'
  2. The expansion of GP knowledge around mental health
  3. Public sector commitment to leading by example in protecting the mental health of its workers.

Further information

Read_the_Wellbeing_and_the_recession_report (PDF file size 156kb)

For more information, please contact: Emma Lamberton at email:

Last updated: 1 May 2013

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