The Cost of Living Crisis Is Deepening Our Mental Health Crisis

Warning: This article deals with the topics of anxiety, depression, and suicide, and may be triggering for some readers.

Folks, we’re currently trapped inside a crisis lasagne. We’re dealing with a rental crisis, a cost of living crisis, a climate crisis, and a mental health crisis, just to name a few layers. Plus, in the middle, there’s us. Imprisoned, as the oven heats up, as the layers start to squeeze.

What’s more, these layers are now merging together and creating some new problems. For instance, the cost of living crisis is making bread too expensive, milk too expensive, and skyrocketing our grocery bills past Saturn. This, in turn, is making some Aussies more depressed and anxious. It’s also making it difficult for some to afford therapy and get the support that they need.

Between 2021 and 2022, demand for Suicide Prevention Australia’s resources went by 88%. A contributing factor to this increase was the cost of living crisis. 

Additionally, in September of 2022, Suicide Prevention Australia noted that this crisis was going to increase the risk of suicide over the next 12 months. In fact, they labelled it as the highest risk factor, next to personal debt. 

However, it’s now been over six months since this data was published. So, have things gotten any better? Has the government come to the rescue? Well, no. The cost of living crisis is still impacting our mental health.

In May of 2023, Lifeline stated that up to 80% of its calls are now cost of living related. They explained that more people are feeling prolonged bouts of stress about purchasing everyday stuff.

And, as Carly Dober noted, “Prolonged stress is terrible for the body.”

“It can impact heart rate, blood pressure. It can lower your immunity levels, it can give you headaches and lead to depression, anxiety, panic symptoms, and suicidal ideation. This is not because people have an existing or history of mental illness but because people can feel so hopeless.”

What’s more, this mental health expert is also concerned that the cost of living crisis is making some Aussies feel like failures. 

Dober said, “They grew up hearing about how their parents and grandparents worked in one job where one wage would sustain the family.”

“They are working, they have done everything right, they have sometimes gone to university, and they are struggling to make ends meet.”

Now, it’s worth noting that this cost of living and mental health crisis isn’t natural. The government can step in. They can publicly push our supermarkets to lower their bread and milk prices. They can put a national rent freeze in place. Heck, they could even increase the number of Medicare-covered psychology sessions from ten back up to 20. 

However, as it stands, none of these initiatives are currently on the table. None of these ideas are priorities.

And so, we have to push for them. We have to protest, scream, write letters, create a political crisis. We have to escape the lasagne. We cannot let sick people die.

Related: Labor Axed 10 Medicare Psychology Sessions

Related: How to Survive Australia’s Cost of Living Crisis

If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or you are experiencing suicidal ideation, are at risk, or need support with your mental health, please contact Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636), all of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

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