Mental health challenges in retirement and ways to overcome them

5 min read 27 Mar 23

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Retiring, after a lifetime of work, is a future many of us can’t wait to start. But, the change in pace and purpose – and more free time – can stir up mixed emotions and place new-found pressures on mental health.

M&G Wealth Retirement Revisited Report* has shown that 2 in 5 (42%) are concerned that they’ll be bored in retirement. Fear of loneliness in retirement affects 42%. And almost 1 in 4 (23%) are afraid that spending more time with their partner in retirement could lead to divorce or separation.

In addition, there’s also the current cost of living crisis, which is affecting many people and those on fixed incomes in particular. The research shows that more than half (55%) of respondents aged 55-75 are concerned about the cost of living, with 92% of the UK population reporting an increase in their living costs according to the Office of National Statistics latest Public Opinion Report**.

With so much to potentially contend with, it’s no surprise that many are struggling with anxiety and depression – serious conditions that affect millions of people across the world and are more common in older generations^.

Mental health issues used to be considered a ‘taboo’ subject, and something that was not openly discussed. Thankfully, for the most part, that has now changed and there are plenty of advice and support options available, whatever your age.

*Retirement Revisited report by M&G Wealth, published Oct 22.

**Office of National Statistics (ONS) report: Public opinions and social trends, Great Britain, published Feb 2023

^Depression stats, World Health Organisation, here.

  1. Finding things tough emotionally? Get some support and talk about it. The sooner you tackle mental health issues the better. Talk with a friend or family member or see your GP. There’s no need to suffer in silence.
  2. Try to keep active. Choose an activity you enjoy that suits your level of fitness. A daily walk can boost your mood and your overall health. For those with mobility or more challenging health issues, the NHS has some useful information, for example, Pilates and yoga exercise videos suited to people with back pain.
  3. Do some research. There are plenty of podcasts and books on making the most of later life, often covering everything from money to avoiding loneliness to staying healthy, helping you plan ahead for retirement so you can make the most of it when the time comes.
  4. Consider taking financial advice. Getting informed ahead of retirement can give you a good idea of how much you’ll have to live on and whether it’s likely to last as long as you need it to. If you don’t already have an adviser and would like to speak to someone, you can find a financial adviser that's right for you. Even if you’re already retired, it makes sense to review your finances regularly and take advice.

GPs: Doctors are well used to supporting people with mental health issues. They’ll listen, have knowledge of local support groups and can prescribe counseling, medication or both if need be. The NHS website has plenty of good advice too.

Age UK: The charity for people in later life has articles and videos on everything from coping with bereavement, to how physical health is linked to your mood. Age UK has a helpline offering support 365 days a year.

Samaritans support people with mental health issues 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Find out more online.

Citizens Advice Service can help with practical worries and has useful resources on the cost of living crisis.

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