Monday 10 October 2022, is World Mental Health Day.
Our Helpline and Information Officer, Uschi Stickroth looks at the impact the current cost of living crisis can have on your mental health and the help and support available to you.
World Mental Health Day is an important day dedicated to get us talking about mental health, help destigmatise it and offer help.
Almost every person we speak to or support via our helpline is affected by mental health struggles.
There’s never just one reason why so many people are struggling with their mental health just now.
Scratch the surface and you hear stories of loss, health issues, financial struggles, isolation, and loneliness.
Epilepsy in itself can be closely linked to mental health struggles too. The psychological impact of living with a condition that can make you feel out of control can be profound.
Imagine what it must be like never knowing when your next seizure strikes. Side effects of some anti-seizure medications can also affect your mood and mental health.
Then there’s money or the lack of it for so many people. Everybody is talking about the cost of living crisis.
Utility bills are becoming unaffordable to so many people, and the cost of food and other essentials seems to be going up at an alarming rate.
The benefits system is often difficult to navigate and adds stress to an already stressful situation.
Emotional and physical wellbeing
One of our basic human needs is to feel safe. It’s essential for our emotional and physical wellbeing.
If you feel threatened in your existence struggling to survive, having to make difficult decisions between heating and eating, or paying your bills, then your mental, and often physical, health can be significantly affected.
As a helpline officer, it can be incredibly disheartening and frustrating to witness the impact increasing inequalities and poverty have on the most vulnerable people in society.
People affected by ill health and disabilities deserve so much more than just getting by.
Help and support
Whatever the cause of your mental health struggles, please reach out and ask for help.
You may feel your situation is hopeless just now, but there is usually some help and support you can access:
- Ask for help, even just speaking to someone can often help to figure out what your next steps should be. Our helpline 0808 800 2200 is always available for anyone who needs to talk.
- If you are seriously struggling with stress and anxiety just now, contact your GP or epilepsy specialist nurse. Your epilepsy specialist nurse can check your anti-seizure medication to make sure this isn’t impacting your mental health. Your GP can make a referral to further mental health support, many GP practices have in-house mental health support.
- Get some help with your finances. Longer term, get a benefits check done by a professional welfare rights adviser to make sure you can access all the financial support you are entitled to.
- If you are in crisis right now and have no money or food, contact your council who can put you in touch with their welfare rights team, or get urgent advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. You may be entitled to grants which you can access quickly, such as a crisis grant or Section 12 payment.
- Your social worker, GP, health visitor, or Citizens Advice can also refer you to a local food bank for emergency supplies. Don’t forget to check out other community organisations in your area who may be able to provide a hot meal for you or your family.
- If you are in receipt of a qualifying disability benefit or means-tested benefits, you may be entitled to a one-off cost of living payment administered by the UK government. For more information have a look here.