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National: Cost of living crisis impacting overall wellbeing in Aotearoa

2:44 pm on 12 August 2022 

Interview by Liam Hansen, adapted by Jack Horsnell

Listen to the full interview 

Photo: Chief Medical Officer of Southern Cross' Insurance Arm, Dr Stephen Child says that many health and wellbeing behaviour changes relate back to financial pressures.

A Southern Cross “Healthy Futures” report has revealed the cost of living is taking a toll on people's wellbeing. 

The report shows budgetary difficulties are impacting New Zealanders' nutrition choices and causing difficulty sleeping and finding motivation or energy for exercise.

1000 New Zealanders were asked about their general wellbeing, and the majority of New Zealanders biggest concern was the cost of living, followed by Covid-19.

Chief Medical Officer of Southern Cross' Insurance Arm, Dr Stephen Child says that it is no surprise so many health and wellbeing behaviour changes can relate back to financial pressures.

“If you have a higher cost of living people have to work harder which means they have less time to spend with their families. It decreases social connectedness, and increases stress." 

79 percent of New Zealanders perceive healthy food to be expensive in 2022, up seven percent from 2020.

“As the cost of healthy food goes up, people are choosing unhealthy options, which has a massive effect on mental health," says Dr Child. 

According to the report, the average New Zealander is only getting 6.9 hours of sleep, with the most common reason for staying up late at night being stress about work, family, and the cost of living.  

Dr Child says that the best way for people to look after their mental health during a cost of living crisis is to acknowledge that something is wrong.  

He encourages employers to recognise challenges to wellbeing, and support their staff through these hard times.

Public interest journalism funded through NZ On Air.