In 2014 I took a year out and went back to University to complete my studies in psychology. I was by far the oldest person in my cohort, the majority of whom had come straight onto the master’s programme from graduating with a bachelor’s degree.
One thing that struck me early on was that my younger colleagues did not take any piece of research seriously if it was more than eight or nine years old. I felt that this risked throwing the baby out with the bath water as there has been a wealth of psychological research that could be forgotten.
One example for me was, and is, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For me, this can explain much of the current mental health crisis, as we live through what Maslow would have regarded as a period where our basic human needs are threatened and are often not being met.
Maslow envisaged his model in the form of a pyramid with the deficiency needs forming the foundations that, only when fulfilled could allow a person to flourish and grow.
This forms the very base of Maslow’s pyramid of human needs and represents the fundamental factors that allow the human body to remain in homeostasis, (a biological term that describes the internal, physical, and chemical conditions required for life).
These needs would include:
- The ability to breath
- A clean source of water
- An adequate supply of food
- Adequate clothing
- Proper sleep
- Sexual intercourse
If these needs are not met, then the cravings induced will form a huge barrier to any of us moving forward.
Many people in this cost-of-living crisis, are struggling to put bread on the table, keep a roof over their heads, or heat their homes adequately. This means that their most fundamental human needs are not being met.
Safety takes precedence for all of us once our physiological needs are met. Safety Needs can be broken down into Physical Safety, Financial Security, and Emotional Safety.
Physical Safety factors could include:
- A safe and healthy environment
If we do not feel safe in our working environment, then it is hard to progress to any higher point on Maslow’s pyramid.
Financial Security factors could include:
- Job security
- Contacts of employment
- Pension schemes
- Sick pay
Financial insecurity will lead us to seek other positions that can fulfill that need and form another barrier to progression to the next tier of the pyramid.
Emotional Safety factors could include:
- Inclusion and diversity
- Supportive relationships
Once again, it will be hard for any of us to progress if these are not met.
Two years of the pandemic before added to the cost-of-living crisis have seriously challenged this layer of Maslow’s pyramid as people have been living through a period of serious insecurity. When they now hear that the current government is planning to remove some of the protections that until now have been norms in employment law that sense of insecurity can only grow for many.
These are only the bottom layers of the pyramid of human needs. They are being seriously challenged in our current social and political climate and it is hardly surprising that the wellbeing of the nation is suffering as a result.