New research from Mind has revealed the impact rising mortgage costs are having on people’s mental health, as well as their finances.
What do the findings show?
The findings show almost a third (29%) of people (nearly 14 million) in England and Wales have been affected by hearing about or experiencing increasing mortgage costs over the last year. One in ten (10%) said it had greatly affected their mental health.
The figures come as mortgage holders face potential further increases in interest rates, with the Bank of England already having increased the UK base rate to 5.25% today – a 15-year high.
The research shows that the effect of increasing costs of mortgages was even greater for people with existing mental health problems, with almost four in 10 saying the increasing mortgage costs had worsened their mental health (36%).
Younger people were also particularly impacted, with almost half (48%) of those aged between 16 and 24 saying that the mortgage situation had affected them similarly.
Mind, the largest mental health charity in the UK, has seen a 55% increase in the number of people contacting its Infoline over the last 18 months about financial difficulties, including welfare, unemployment, and personal debt.
What do mental health charities say about this?
Commenting on the figures, Vicki Nash, Mind’s Associate Director of External Affairs, said,
“As we continue to grapple with the rising cost of living, news of another possible increase in mortgage rates will be difficult for many families to bear. Money problems and mental health often form a vicious cycle. When we’re struggling to deal with one, the other can become much harder to manage, particularly when it threatens to impact our housing situation. We know some people are becoming so unwell that they need hospital treatment for their mental health. When this happens, the care they receive when they leave the hospital is critical, so we are calling for the introduction of comprehensive welfare checks, including people’s financial situation.”
Ms Nash continued,
“These figures show this is a mental health emergency that everyone will need help to deal with. We know we can’t fix the cost-of-living crisis, but support for your mental health is out there, and we are here for you. This includes Mind’s Infoline, online community, Side by Side, and the useful information on our website that will be available throughout this difficult period.”
Meanwhile, Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), said,
“Mortgage brokers are seeing evidence daily of the stress being felt by mortgage holders facing much higher interest rates than anyone anticipated. We hear of people in tears and others thinking of selling up but with nowhere to go. In addition, the volatility means that we see mortgage products withdrawn with very little notice, forcing brokers to work late into the night or during weekends in addition to the average week. All of this can impact mortgage brokers’ mental health.
“These new pressures can damage the mental health of those involved directly but also put pressure on relationships with family and friends. Brokers are not trained to deal with these extreme impacts. Charities like Mind must focus on these issues, and we welcome their work in supporting people at this difficult time. The AMI also has our own Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter, but this will only scratch the surface.”
Finally, Ben Groves of Affinity Mortgages, who has worked as a Mortgage Broker for three years, said,
“Lenders are not making it easy for mortgage brokers, and insufficient wellbeing support exists. Currently, they are changing rates with as little as two hours notice, so if you are working with multiple families in a day, it is almost impossible to react and secure a new product in time for them.
“I am having challenging discussions with people about their payments doubling or tripling to many hundreds of pounds more a month, and brokers are on the frontline seeing the impact this is having on people’s lives. You feel guilty if you haven’t been able to secure a new deal if the lender changes products on the same day, and I’m often re-doing work and working late into the evenings submitting applications to support my clients as best as possible. All of this can have an impact on our mental health.
“It’s not unrealistic to ask for more notice from lenders to give brokers time to do their jobs well, and there must be support for people in my line of work who are finding the stress of the current situation affecting their mental wellbeing.”
To conclude, the increasing mortgage rates are hitting homeowners hard, just as a perfect storm of high energy bills, rising food prices, and stagnant pay rates wages on. More action is needed to support those most in need to help them through this crisis.
With the nation’s mental health at risk, the stakes of doing nothing are too frightening to comprehend.
Have you been affected by soaring mortgage rates? Tell us more in the comments.