The state of Singaporeans’ mental health has been significantly strained by the impact of inflation, resulting in a decline in mental wellbeing and relationships, according to the latest findings from the Mental Health Index™ developed by TELUS Health, a global healthcare leader.
The survey revealed that nearly one third (29 percent) of Singaporeans have reduced expenses related to their health, while 65 percent have cut back on discretionary spending. Additionally, 41 percent are staying at home more often, and 13 percent have decreased their expenditure on prescription medication.
As a consequence of these cost-cutting measures, the mental health scores of these individuals are lower than the national average by more than four and ten points, respectively, in the areas of overall mental health and prescription medication.
The financial pressures imposed by rising inflation have had a significant impact on the overall wellbeing and relationships of Singaporeans. More than a fifth (22 percent) reported a decline in their marital relationships due to financial pressure. Their mental health score of 35.8 is nearly 26 points below the national average, highlighting a serious cause for concern.
The first quarter of 2023 Mental Health Index (MHI) registered a score of 61.6 on a scale from 0 to 100, where higher scores indicate better mental health and lower mental health risk. A score below 49 indicates distress, while a score between 50 and 79 is considered strained.
Jamie MacLennan, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of APAC at TELUS Health, emphasizes that these results serve as a call to action for the government to address the cost of living crisis, which is significantly impacting the mental health of Singaporeans.
MacLennan states, “Financial wellbeing is highly correlated with mental wellbeing; as financial wellbeing improves, so do mental health scores. There’s a spotlight on Singaporeans trying to plan their future amidst a cost of living crisis, rising interest and inflation rates, and the looming threat of recession.”
The findings of the Mental Health Index also highlight the disparity in mental health scores between different demographics. Women and households with children consistently report substantially lower scores, as the additional financial pressure places extra strain on familial and romantic relationships.
Since the launch of the Index in April 2022, differences in mental health scores between individuals with and without children have been observed. The pattern continues, with individuals with at least one child scoring lower (60.2) than those without children (62.6).
Parents, in particular, are facing significant struggles due to inflation and financial pressures. They are 80 percent more likely to reduce expenses related to their health compared to non-parents.
Additionally, nearly half (42 percent) of parents with children under the age of 18 express concern about their children’s behavior, with a substantial majority (72 percent) believing that their children’s behavior has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic. This situation has had a negative impact on the mental health and work productivity scores of concerned parents.
The findings of the Mental Health Index underscore the urgent need for the government and relevant stakeholders to address the cost of living crisis and implement measures to alleviate financial pressure on Singaporeans. By prioritizing the financial wellbeing of its citizens, Singapore can contribute to improving mental health outcomes and promoting healthier relationships within the population.
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