Belfast Telegraph

Money-related health issues 'rise'

Support groups dealing with the least well-off and unemployed are facing a hike in demand from men suffering recession-related health problems, research has found.

Men with stress and anxiety accounted for the bulk of those contacting organisations such as St Vincent de Paul, Citizens' Information Centres and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

Some 56% of organisations reported a jump in demand linked with alcohol or drug dependency, while feelings of isolation and family conflicts also sparked an increase in pleas for help.

At the start of Men's Health Week, the Institute of Public Health (IPH) warned of the hidden effects of the recession on men because of their reluctance to talk and inadequate support services.

Owen Metcalfe, IPH associate director, said: "This research has identified the relationship between being unemployed and suffering ill health, particularly mental health for men. Men's health issues in times of economic recession are made more difficult by their tendency to take fewer health preventative measures, and be less likely to seek support."

The all-island research, Facing the Challenge - The Impact of the Recession and Unemployment on Men's Health in Ireland, found 93% of frontline organisations in contact with unemployed men linked health challenges to being out of work.

Mental health problems were far more prevalent than physical problems, with high levels of stress and anxiety the main reasons for the increase in demands for support.

Some 64 of the 72 organisations quizzed reported that health-related issues or challenges for men had led to an increase in demand for their own services and activities. The highest increases were reported by Citizens' Information Centres, Money Advice and Budgeting Services and St Vincent de Paul projects.

According to the report, 37% of organisations rated drug and alcohol dependency as a very important issue for men they work with, and 56% of organisations reported an increase in demand for their services as a result of this.

Some 23% rated physical health problems as a very important issue, and 46% of organisations reported an increase in demand for their services because of this.

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