17 June 2024

As political parties pledge to fix the NHS in the run up to an election, over 3.4 million Londoners report poor mental health with young people being the worst affected 

According to Hestia's new research, half of Londoners (49%) have experienced symptoms of poor mental health in the last year, with more than 3.4 million people affected.

The survey of over 2000 Londoners revealed that those who had also experienced financial pressures in the last year were more likely to experience challenges with their mental health, with 59% admitting that they have struggled. Respondents described having to cut down on energy usage (52%), borrowing more money (43%), or skipping meals to reduce costs (37%). 

In the run up to the election, Labour has pledged to get the NHS back on its feet, cutting waiting times with more evening and weekend appointments each week. The Conservatives have promised the first long-term workforce plan in NHS history, alongside NHS productivity reforms. 

Hestia currently supports over 6,000 people annually across London through our network of Crisis Cafes but is calling for more support like this to be available across the capital to meet the growing need. This sort of community-based support can reduce pressure on the NHS, with around 1 in 7 of those who had used Hestia’s services saying they would have gone to A&E if they hadn’t been supported by the Crisis Cafe.

Our report reveals that around a third of Londoners described feeling nervous, anxious or on edge (36%), feeling overwhelmed (35%) or feeling down, depressed or hopeless (33%). One in ten (9%) people had experienced suicidal thoughts in the last year, and 5% had self-harmed. 

The research highlights the pressing need for more mental health crisis services, especially those that are open in the evenings and at weekends as they can offer immediate support at times when other services are closed. 

Avani, who has used a Hestia crisis support service said:

"The best way to describe how I was feeling was as if I’d been hit by a train, I felt completely disorientated and numb. I was unable to wake up, I was just sleeping the whole day. The fact that I was able to get immediate help was a lifeline to me, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to survive without it. 
“I felt empty, numb, and I completely forgot what it was to be happy or have fun but now I’m learning to appreciate the little things; I’m listening to music, I’m doing things I used to enjoy and I’m paying attention to myself.”

Patrick Ryan, Chief Executive of Hestia said:

“As the election gets closer, Hestia sees every day the ways in which the cost-of-living crisis is negatively impacting on the mental health of those who come to us for support – they tell us that they are unable to pay bills, find decent or affordable accommodation or afford essentials including food. 
“People tell us that our mental health crisis services are a lifeline when they find themselves unable to cope anymore and when everything seems hopeless and overwhelming. We want to see crisis support easily accessible across the capital which will not only reduce demand on overstretched emergency services and A&E but also prevent crises from escalating and having longer and more devasting impact. I urge everyone to find out where your nearest out of hours service is – you are very likely to know someone who might need it.”

Read Hestia's London Mental Health Index here.

To make it easier for Londoners to find accessible support for their mental health, Hestia has created a Directory of the Crisis Cafes available across the capital.