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Cost of living taking huge mental toll, Salvos’ research finds

Many people accessing The Salvation Army’s services are withdrawing from social commitments and relying on pets for emotional support as living costs take a mental toll on the most vulnerable.



Financial pressures are leading to lost sleep and isolation from friends and family for Australians accessing Salvation Army services, new research has found.


The Salvation Army recently surveyed the mental wellbeing of 1500 people who reached out to Doorways Emergency Relief service, with 79 per cent admitting that poor mental health made their lives and everyday tasks more difficult. Two in three respondents, or 68 per cent, identified mental health as one of their greatest challenges, while 62 per cent said they often felt lonely.


“My mental health has deteriorated markedly,” said a 59-year-old man who accessed Salvos supports. “I need new glasses [and] critical dental work, but worst is the loneliness.”


The survey was conducted over 12 months, and its release comes as The Salvation Army aims to raise $38 million by 30 June to continue supporting Australians doing it tough around the country.


The research also found the following mental health concerns arising from cost-of-living pressures:


-              Two-thirds (67 per cent) acknowledged the negative impact of their financial situation on their mental wellbeing;

-              71 per cent frequently lost sleep over their financial circumstances;

-              6 in 10 (60 per cent) said their financial hardship stopped them from spending time with family and friends;

-              4 in 10 (40 per cent) stopped having people over to save on energy bills;

-              Over half of respondents with pets (57 per cent) admitted they had skipped meals so that their pets could eat.

Pets are offsetting people’s feeling of loneliness in the community.

Financial pressures were also keeping people in a vicious cycle of mental ill health, according to a statement from The Salvation Army. The survey found 46 per cent of respondents were unable to afford counselling services for themselves, and 29 per cent were unable to afford mental health care for their children.


Many respondents relied on pets for companionship and connection, with over three-quarters of pet owners (77 per cent) reporting their pet provided emotional support during difficult times. 

Major Brendan Nottle says The Salvation Army offers people a reason to hope.

Melbourne Project 614 Corps Officer Major Brendan Nottle said it was extremely sad to see the survey results and hear of the countless individuals and families struggling financially, emotionally, and mentally.


He mentioned how 92 per cent of those surveyed admitted they would not have coped if it were not for The Salvation Army.


“Our work is practical and compassionate,” Brendan said. “We know there are hundreds of thousands of Australians in need of safe accommodation, meals, financial assistance and other practical support.


“We also know there are potentially even more people who need a listening ear, a place for community and connection, and a reason to have hope.”


He said this highlighted the need for Australians to support the Red Shield Appeal.  


“The best investment you can make this tax time is to financially support those who are doing [it] the most tough in our country,” Brendan said.

“We see time and again the real-life impact these funds have on people as their lives are turned around through the support of The Salvation Army. We can’t do what we do without the support from Australians, so please give generously.”






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