The Psychological Costs of Austerity

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Our environments, economic, physical, and social, are central to our psychology, mental health and well-being. Here are some examples from social science research:

  • People living in more unequal societies have more mental health problems.
  • People from lower socio-economic groups are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health problem.
  • The higher up a tower block you live, the more likely you are to develop mental health issues.
  • In societies which trust each other more, and where people feel more connected to each other, people are more resilient, and have lower levels of mental health diagnoses.

Mental health is not simply an individual brain issue, it is an issue which involves all aspects of how our society is set up, including: housing, welfare, families, intergenerational connections, communities, inclusion, equality, education and employment. As psychologists we believe it is crucial to create the structural social conditions and policies which support emotional well-being for all. Austerity policies do not achieve this.

Austerity ignores the massive costs of these policies on people, our society and communities. It also ignores the knock on financial costs of the loss of the safety net that holds our society together. Cuts have created conditions which increase both mental health problems and crime, setting up a potential catastrophe for future generations. Services have been reduced to crisis management, meaning people are being helped only once problems have become very severe, this ends up costing more in terms of suffering and money.

We have identified five ‘austerity ailments’, experiences increased by cuts which lead to mental distress.  Click on the links below or download our whole briefing paper here:

Increasing Fear and Mistrust

Increasing Humiliation and Shame

Increasing Instability and Insecurity

Increasing Isolation and Loneliness

Increasing Experiences of Feeling Trapped and Powerless.


One thought on “The Psychological Costs of Austerity

  1. I absolutely agree with everything you are saying, as I am seeing and experiencing all these negative effects of poverty via my work as a school nurse in a deprived area of Glasgow myself. Also I’m from Denmark where social welfare is good, so I totally notice the difference between there and here. I also believe that if all people are more equal and better off, it makes for a better, healthier and happy society, which will impact positively on everybody. An important aspect of changing this around is to increase overall trust amongst people, but this won’t come quick or easy, as there is a lot to be rectified.

    Liked by 1 person

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