Irish believe recession is bad for mental health

Pfizer survey suggests financial difficulties putting strain on lifestyle and relationships

Most Irish people consider themselves to be very healthy but believe the recession is having a deep impact on their mental health, according to a new survey.

Most Irish people consider themselves to be very healthy but believe the recession is having a deep impact on their mental health, according to a new survey.

Wed, Sep 18, 2013, 01:01


Most Irish people consider themselves to be very healthy but believe the recession is having a deep impact on their mental health, according to a new survey.

People’s perception of their health continues to decline, as does the priority they attach to the health and welfare of their family, the 2013 Pfizer Health Index shows.

The impact of the recession is all too apparent from the figures. Seven out of 10 people say they are spending less on luxuries and are avoiding big purchases, and two-thirds report finding it harder to make ends meet.

Almost half claim not to be booking any holidays and a third say they have difficulties making loan or mortgage repayments.

Some 43 per cent have suffered a salary, hours reduction or job loss in the family, but this figure masks big differences across different age groups. Almost 60 per cent of those in the “sandwich generation” aged between 25 and 50 have been affected in these ways, compared to only 8 per cent of over 65s.

Recession depression
The survey reveals the perceived impact the recession is having on health, with 90 per cent of respondents agreeing that depression, anxiety and mental health issues have increased since it began.

When asked how these issues had affected them and their families, most said they had resulted in reduced finances and inability to work.

More than a third said depression and mental health issues had also caused divisions in the family, and 34 per cent said they caused physical illnesses.

A quarter of those surveyed referred to relationship or marital difficulties.

A quarter of people reported experience of mental health problems among their close friends or family and 6 per cent said they personally had experienced depression.

Nine out of 10 people believe depression, anxiety and mental health issues have increased since the recession, while 60 per cent believe they know someone who has been affected by these problems due to the recession, the survey also finds.

Social media
Many people believe modern technology and social media are detrimental to the health of young people, the survey also shows.

This sentiment is particularly felt in households with children under 16, with 45 per cent “strongly agreeing” that social media are harmful, according to this year’s Pfizer Health Index. Now in its eighth year, the index also tracks changes in relation to private health insurance and medical cards.

The number of people with health insurance has dropped from 44 per cent in 2010 to 34 per cent this year. The increase in medical cards seen in recent years has tailed off and now stands at 41 per cent, the same as in 2011.

The number of people with no medical cover now stands at 950,000, or 27 per cent of the population, the highest since this figure was included in the survey four years ago.

Many in this group of the population may be required to contribute when the Government introduces universal healthcare in the coming years.

A representative sample of 1,000 adults aged over 16 years were surveyed for the study.