Housing costs cause depression

20 June 2011

Warring couple

New Shelter research shows a huge surge in the number of people suffering from stress and depression due to high housing costs.

The YouGov survey found 18 million people (38 per cent) in Britain believe housing costs cause stress and depression in their family. This is a rise of seven million people (15 per cent) since 2009.

Shelter commissioned YouGov to investigate how the risk of repossession and rent rises are affecting people.

The survey also found that:

  • More than 13 million people (28 per cent) said they keep up with their rent or mortgage without any difficulty, a drop from 19 million people (41 per cent) in 2009.
  • 12 million people (26 per cent) have reduced the amount they spend on food to help pay their housing costs.

Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Robb said: ‘It is a worrying discovery that for more than 18 million people in this country high housing costs are such a strain they are suffering with stress and depression.

‘But this is hardly surprising when so many people face the daily choice between cutting down on essentials like food or keeping a roof over their head. The impact this stress could have on family members as well as people’s long term health is a real cause for concern, especially if this leads to a generation of people reliant on prescription drugs.’

A recent report from the NHS Prescription Services showed prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac have risen by more than 40 per cent over the past four years because of the economic pressures people are under.

Mr Robb added: ‘The Government must recognise that investment in housing now can make savings to the NHS in the long term.  As more and more people succumb to the pressures of keeping up with basic housing costs, they too could find their heath suffering, putting even more pressure on an already overstretched health service.

‘The Government promised to produce a long term strategy for housing, but we are yet to see any evidence of this. At a time when every two minutes someone faces the nightmare of losing their home it is essential that we see a clear plan for addressing the housing crisis as a matter of urgency.’

Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive of the mental health charity SANE, said: ‘These findings should be of profound concern to us all. At SANE, we are certainly hearing more from people who are deeply worried about their financial situation: where the next meal is coming from, job security, cuts in benefits and whether they can keep a roof over their head. Many are getting in touch with us for the first time.

‘It is a toxic combination, especially for those who are already struggling with darker thoughts and other problems.’

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