Disparities in local funding mean that some of the UK’s most vulnerable citizens are lacking access to social resources that might provide mental health support, a new study has revealed.
A survey of UK adults by the Mental Health Foundation found that a quarter of people have felt lonely some, or all, of the time over the previous month but this leaps to more than a third, or even a half, for some groups.
More than a third of people with a disability have felt lonely some, or all, of the time over the previous month (34% compared to 25% of the UK population), according to the survey’s findings.
Carried out by Opinium, the poll of 6,000 UK adults also found that a third of people from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds have felt lonely some or all of the time over the previous month (33% compared to 25% of the UK population).
More than a third of people who identify as LGBTQ+ have felt lonely some, or all, of the time over the previous month (35% compared to 25% of the UK population).
The survey also found that more than four in 10 single parents (45% compared to 25% of the UK population) have felt lonely some, or all, of the time over the previous month.
The Mental Health Foundation has urged the Government to restore the Public Health Grant to 2015/16 levels and empower local authorities to increase public mental health spending at a greater rate than wider public health spending to address the funding ‘gap’ that has existed for too long.
Mark Rowland, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation said: ‘Current investment in public health in England does not give the right attention to mental health. Loneliness, which we know is a risk factor for poor mental health, can be addressed by looking at who is most affected and introducing preventative measures.
‘The Government’s strategy for tackling loneliness needs to go further. Local authorities are best placed to work with those groups and communities most at risk of loneliness but councils are chronically underfunded.
‘COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated health inequalities and it is shocking that the Public Health Grant is almost a quarter lower than it was six years ago. Restoring funding levels should be a priority and local authorities should be empowered – with their knowledge of communities – to introduce measures to identify and support those most at risk of loneliness.’