Page last updated at 23:00 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 00:00 UK

Credit-crunch 'isolation' warning

Man at window
Reduced finances should not mean reduced socialising

A charity is warning people not to risk their mental health by isolating themselves as they try to cope with the credit crunch.

A Mental Health Foundation poll of 2,000 British adults found a third are cutting back on going out with friends due to limited funds.

The charity said this may be the first time the younger generation have dealt with such financial stress.

It urged people to opt for cheaper, but still social activities.

The survey found eight out of 10 do have worries about the impact of the current financial situation and two thirds say money worries are always at the back of their mind.

Almost twice as many people aged 18-24 are stressed by their financial situation as those aged over 55.

By spending less, people can help themselves avoid serious debt, which can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety
Celia Richardson
Mental Health Foundation

But people are taking positive steps.

One in four of those surveyed said they were growing their own fruit and vegetables, while one in five are choosing to walk or cycle rather than use public transport or taxis.

They are also cutting back on spending on clothes, holidays and fuel.

But the Mental Health Foundation said restricting social activities could be detrimental

Celia Richardson, a spokeswoman for the charity, said: "As the economic slump begins to affect everything from food prices to mortgage repayments, this research shows that financial worries are a source of stress for many.

"But people are making changes to the way they live - like growing their own fruit and vegetables, and walking and cycling more.

Frisbee in the park

"Not only is this evidence that people are adapting well to change, but some of their altered habits are actually good for mental health."

"For many people, particularly the younger generations, this may be the first time they've been surrounded by worrying talk of serious recession.

"By spending less, people can help themselves avoid serious debt, which can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.

"But they need to replace shopping and spending with other activities they enjoy and shouldn't isolate themselves from friends."

She advised people to find cheaper ways of socialising, such as playing games with family and friends like charades in the living room or Frisbee in the park.




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