With the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day being ‘mental health in an unequal world’, the BPS is highlighting the damage the decision to cut Universal Credit will do to people’s mental health and wellbeing and how it will hit the most vulnerable.
Julia Faulconbridge, from the BPS’ Division of Clinical Psychology, said:
“Poverty is one of the major risk factors for the development of physical and mental health problems, and we know that children growing up in poverty are three-to-four times more likely to develop mental health problems which also leads to long-term impacts upon their education, life chances and quality of life. For parents trying to do their best for their children, this will mean increasing stress as they try to make ends meet and keep their families fed and warm against a backdrop of increasing living costs as well as reduced income.”
The cut will see health inequalities widen, placing more pressure on our already stretched and underfunded public services in addition to the well documented harm that increasing poverty causes to individuals, families and communities. We also need to look at the impact of this decision on people with disabilities and those with long-term health conditions.
A number of people with disabilities will have been on so-called ‘legacy’ benefits and never received the £20 uplift so have been disproportionately hit during the last 18 months, they also face a number of other barriers to accessing the support they need. The growing issue of Long Covid and its impact on people’s ability to live fulfilling and rewarding lives must not be ignored and we must ensure the support systems are in place to aid people’s recovery.
There is plenty of evidence which has shown us that, in fact, greater inequality impacts on the health and wellbeing of everyone, not just the poorest in society. Inequality touches everything including education, social mobility, crime levels, the economy, health and trust. To have a truly thriving society we must work to ensure we support those who need it most and ensure that poverty does not prevent families and children from being able to fully participate in our society and that we value them as equal citizens now and for the future.
Against the backdrop of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign of ‘mental health in an unequal world’, there is still time for the government to do the right thing and reverse this decision, and take a step to a more equal society and world.”