26 January 2012 You are here:

Money fears dominate UK's mental health

People’s biggest fear for 2012 is not having enough money to pay the bills.

Jo Brand

Celebrities have been offering their support to a Salvation Army survey into the current state of the nation’s mental health. It discovered that money issues and the state of the country dominate people’s thoughts during the most depressing month of the year.

Almost a quarter (24%) of adults questioned regarded paying bills as their biggest concern, followed by the state of the country (16%) and their own health and fitness (15%).

Women (56% compared with 47% of men) are more worried about paying bills on a daily basis – similarly parents of children under 18 (64%) are more likely to be concerned about their daily finances than those with no children under 18 (47%).

Comedian Jo Brand worked as a psychiatric nurse for 10 years before turning to comedy. She said: " Over the years The Salvation Army has probably been the most consistent and dependable source of care for men and women when life really takes a nose dive. Their recent survey reveals a seriously worrying number of people who feel just helpless and hopeless.

“I think The Salvation Army has been around just a bit longer than Marmite, and love it or hate it its actually very good for you.

“Yes, we've all heard that ominous rattle, whilst enjoying a quiet lager on a Friday night and there's no avoiding the imposing figure of a uniformed matron with her collecting tin and a commanding line on the less fortunate and unseen souls on our streets. No offence intended General!

“Publishing the results of their survey following January’s Blue Monday the ‘most depressing day of the year’ helps to raise awareness of the range of support The Salvation Army can offer and to reach someone who needs it. And that's it, - not the rattle of a tin to be heard - but I would encourage you to think generously of our ‘street soldiers’ and in contrast to the uplifting tempo of their marching bands their work is conducted quietly, confidentially and with a listening ear that won't go away until it is asked to."

Comedian and entertainer Paul O’Grady has discussed in interviews in the past periods of depression brought on by both work load and personal bereavements.  

Paul O’Grady said: “Many of us go through low points in our lives and we all find different ways of dealing with them. I have been lucky and have come through it but it is important to know that there is help out there.

“It’s great that The Salvation Army has carried out this survey on mental health and is trying to boost the current mood of the nation. Your mental health affects everything around you and it is hard to combat depression.

“The Salvation Army are doing what they can to help and to be a shoulder to cry on. You can help them out by getting on Facebook and Twitter and giving any tips you can to support and cheer up others.“

The Salvation Army’s survey also found that Scots and Welsh are the most concerned about finances as a day-to-day worry (62% and 60% respectively).

When asked for their three hopes or wishes for 2012 – more than half of the people questioned (53%) said that financial security was top of their list, closely followed by a lower cost of living (46%), losing weight and improving physical fitness (40%) and a national economic recovery (38%).

A quarter of people made redundant in the past 12 months said that their mental health had suffered. Anxiety is the main factor stopping them from finding work (27%), followed by depression (24%) and stress (21%).

On the positive side, 61% of the respondents agreed that hosting the London 2012 Olympics will give the UK a boost in 2012 and 59% agreed it will lift the mood of the nation.

Major Ray Irving, Territorial Social Services Secretary for The Salvation Army said: “The Salvation Army has a long history of offering practical support to people who are vulnerable or in need.

“We wanted to find out exactly what mental state people are in as they head into 2012 so that we might help wherever possible. Our findings show that despite so many people having so many worries – only 3% of adults would turn to a charity for support if faced with a major loss and women are more likely than men to ask for help.

“Yet we can help – The Salvation Army is here for anyone who feels they need to talk to someone about their problems and will hopefully find a solution to their problems. We treat people holistically - whatever issue they have. We recognise that you have to help the whole person so that they can then help themselves.

“We are always ready to offer support, from being a shoulder to cry on to providing everyday practical advice - we run debt advice clinics in a number of our centre and try to advise on the best course of action for anyone who needs assistance.”

The Salvation Army builds relationships with the homeless and helps them to find their sense of purpose. Its employment services are more than just carrying out a job search and updating people’s CVs – The Salvation Army supports people throughout the process of being ready for work and then finding and keeping a job. It has addictions services to help people deal with any drug, alcohol or gambling problem they may have.

The Salvation Army has 700 churches (Corps) and its Church leaders (Officers) are trained pastors – there to listen, show support and empathy for situations which may cause people anxiety such as bereavement, marital and family issues. Many run drop in clubs for people looking for a hot drink and a chat.

In addition, The Salvation Army Employment Plus service gives jobseekers targeted professional support and works to redress the negative effects of unemployment on people’s lives – their self-esteem, overall well-being, families and wider communities.

The Salvation Army has six specialist detox centres in the UK, specialist rehabilitation programmes in their 50 Lifehouses (hostels) as well as substance misuse day programmes and additional support services at its Salvation Army churches and community centres.

As well as supporting people day in day out, The Salvation Army will be posting positive messages on Facebook and Twitter and is asking people to share good news stories through social media to help boost the mood of the nation. The international church and charity encourages those who need help to get in touch.