The last decade has been characterised by spending cuts that have resulted in reductions in social services, housing, welfare, and the public sector (also called austerity policies). Previous research has shown that these austerity measures have had the most detrimental effect on the most vulnerable people in the UK, and have contributed to growing inequality in the UK. The impact of austerity policies on mental health and well-being has not yet been specifically determined.
We will explore how trends in mental health outcomes relate to the implementation of austerity-based policies and how the mental health impact varies between population groups. First, we will explore the link between financial difficulties and mental health problems in the UK. We will then use this information to develop simulation models to explore the potential impact and effectiveness that specific government interventions (e.g. new programmes and support services) and policy changes might have on mental health outcomes.
Design and methods:
We will use routinely collected data, including data collected through health records, surveys, and national statistics. This will help us determine the rate of common mental disorders, like depression and anxiety, over the last 20 years. We will then explore if these rates have changed over time and whether these changes can be linked to any specific changes in austerity policies. We will also use simulation models to explore the anticipated impact that new policies could have on mental health outcomes.