Mental health consequences of poverty policies must be assessed
Calls have been made for a parliamentary inquiry into the mental health effects of austerity.
A group of psychologists want to see the leaders of the UK’s political parties commit to holding a hearing into the effects government policy has on the poorest in society.
Psychologists Against Austerity has launched a petition calling for the inquiry, claiming people’s mental health is suffering.
A spokesperson said: “The evidence is clear, austerity policies are having damaging psychological costs, both increasing mental distress in the present, and storing problems for the future. As a group of psychologists, therapists, service users and allies we feel it is our public and professional duty to bring these issues to light.
“Britain's poorest communities have been hit the hardest by austerity measures; nearly a million people in the UK had to rely on a foodbank in 2014. 84% of people who attend food banks report being humiliated by the experience, and 43% hide the experience from their children. Prolonged experiences of humiliation treble the chance of being diagnosed with depression.
“This is just one example of the damaging psychological costs of austerity, which include increased experiences of: fear; mistrust; instability; isolation; and being trapped.
“Brutal cuts to public services are a political choice, not an economic necessity. Policies which directly increase mental distress in the present and future are not only inhumane, they also make bad business sense. Mental distress already costs employers nearly £26 billion per year.
“We therefore call for a parliamentary inquiry to assess the full psychological impact of austerity.
“Social and economic conditions directly impact upon people's mental health. To promote well-being we need to invest in building resilient communities, rather than slashing crucial public services.”
The petition can be accessed here.