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

The Salvation Army 3 mins read

19 June 2024


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

79% of respondents say their poor mental health makes everyday tasks more difficult, 40% are not having people over to save money and 29% are unable to afford mental health care for their children


The Salvation Army is highlighting the mental health effects the cost-of-living crisis is having on the people they help. New research has found more than 2 in 3 respondents (68 per cent) identified their mental health as one of their greatest challenges, with 79 per cent saying their mental health made their life and everyday tasks more difficult and 62 per cent saying they often feel lonely.


The research, which surveyed more than 1,500 people who have reached out to the Salvos’ Doorways Emergency Relief service over a 12-month period, showed cost-of-living pressures as a main reason behind these mental health impacts*:

  • 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.


A 59-year-old man who accessed support from the Salvos said: “My mental health has deteriorated markedly. I need new glasses, critical dental work, but worst is the loneliness."


Financial pressures are also keeping people in a vicious cycle of mental-ill health, with 46 per cent of respondents unable to afford counselling services for themselves and 29 per cent unable to afford mental health care for their children.


“It is extremely sad to see these figures and to hear of the countless individuals and families who are struggling not only financially, but emotionally and mentally. That is why the Salvos are privileged to walk alongside people and journey with them as they struggle, providing wraparound services to support people on many levels,” said The Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle.


“Our work is practical and compassionate. 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. Ninety-two per cent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t have coped if it wasn’t for The Salvation Army, which is why we need the support of Australians for our Red Shield Appeal, so we can continue this life-changing work.”


For those without families, pets are often their only source of companionship and connection, with over three-quarters of pet owners (77 per cent) reporting their pet provided emotional support during difficult times. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) said their pets added meaning and purpose to their lives. Devastatingly, more than half of pet owners (57 per cent) said they skipped meals so their pets could eat.


Another community member said: “I have bad depression and anxiety. I don't go out much. My dog gives me a reason to get up and get out and do things. Same as my chickens and duck, I have to get up to tend to them, so they make me feel better.”


The research coincides with The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal, which aims to raise $38 million by June 30 to allow the Salvos to continue supporting Australians doing it tough around the country.


Each year, through The Salvation Army’s nationwide network of over 400 centres and 2,000 services in areas such as homelessness, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, youth support, family and domestic violence, financial hardship and more, the Salvos provide**:


  • Assistance to one person every 17 seconds
  • More than 1.67 million sessions of care to over 250,000 people in need
  • Over 1.2 million bed nights to people who need accommodation
  • More than 1.63 million meals to people who access our homelessness services
  • Assistance to more than 10,000 women and their children at risk of experiencing family violence, including more than 123,000 nights of emergency accommodation for women and children impacted by violence.


Major Nottle said: “The best investment you can make this tax-time is to financially support those who are doing the most tough in our country. 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.”


To give a new beginning, you can make a tax-deductible donation to The Salvation Army’s 60th Red Shield Appeal by visiting or calling 13 SALVOS. You can also donate at any Salvos Store.




For more information, please contact The Salvation Army’s Media Relations Department on (02) 9466 3143.


*The Salvation Army Red Shield Report 2024

**The Salvation Army Annual Report 2022-23


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