Suffolk is currently seeing the worst mental health figures since the first lockdown, say a local mental health charity.

Latest Suffolk Mind figures show, between April and June 2022, 65% of the county's population were at risk of or experiencing stress or mild/moderate mental ill health.

This shows a 12% increase from January to March and is the second worst quarter of data since the charity started measuring back in 2019.

"There has been a steady increase in the number of people reaching out to us", said Suffolk Mind chief executive, Jon Neal.

"The number hasn't really dropped since the pandemic and, where that has started to drop off, other things have started to take its place.

"The cost of living is one of those. More of our users have been talking about food banks, choosing between heating and buying food.

"The cost of living challenges we're all facing will inevitably be affecting mental health."

Suffolk Mind says the main driving factors behind people not meeting their emotional needs are control, security and feeling valued.

"There are a number of emotional needs which need to be met to avoid stress. With the cost of living crisis, control and security are particularly challenged", said Mr Neal.

"If we are worrying about our bills getting paid or our job then that is a real challenge to our security. If you don't feel like you can eat or have a hot shower in the morning, then you're not feeling as though you're in control."

Earlier this year, Citizens Advice in Ipswich voiced warned of a mental health crisis amid a rise in the cost of living.

In the face of such a crisis, there are fresh concerns surrounding how local services will keep up with demand.

"Mental health services in Suffolk were already struggling", said Mr Neal.

"Staff are working so hard and we are worried about the capability of the entire system, not just locally, to be able to help as many people as possible."

Looking ahead, Mr Neal stresses the importance of seeking help.

"If someone is struggling mentally, they should always see someone who can help.

"It should always be a GP as the first port of call, and there are plenty of resources out there that can be found.

"If you're struggling financially, go and speak with Citizens Advice.

"There is help out there for you."