A strong welfare system, or social safety net, provides support to citizens who need assistance. These include pensions for retirement, income support, unemployment benefits, housing benefits, and disability assistance.
Risk and/or Protective Factor
The availability and adequacy of the welfare system can affect mental health. In the UK, many of these supports are made through the universal credit system, however, universal credit has been associated with poorer mental health due to reported delays in receipt and hostile nature of the claiming process (1). There are indications that the £20 weekly increase of universal credit due to COVID-19 alleviated the stress associated with financial insecurity and poverty for recipients (2,3). This suggests that increased welfare benefits are a protective factor for mental health.
1. Cheetham M, Moffatt S, Addison M, Wiseman A. Impact of Universal Credit in North East England: A qualitative study of claimants and support staff. BMJ Open [Internet]. 2019 Jul 1 [cited 2021 Jan 20];9(7):29611. Available from: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/
2. Johnson P. Covid gives us the chance to choose how generous benefits should be. Institute for Fiscal Studies. 2020 Oct;
3. Sandhu S. Universal Credit £20 increase: What the temporary extra cash means to claimants during the Covid pandemic. The i. 2020 Oct;