Is there a relationship between literacy and mental health?

Literacy and mental health

Is there a relationship between literacy and mental health?

The UK has a massive literacy problem that not nearly enough people are aware of. Those of us who know no different remain ignorant to the overwhelming number of people nationwide who lack essential literacy skills. Around one in six adults in England have literacy levels at or below Level 1. They are considered to have ‘very poor literacy skills’.

But while hearing these facts and figures is a step in the right direction, it’s also important that we all realise the wider implications the literacy problem has on our society. 

Imagine the frustration of not being able to carry out the everyday reading that a lot of us do without even thinking - like you’re doing right now. Or the ways in which your personal relationships could deteriorate without adequate communication. An individual’s lack of literacy skills has the potential to wreak havoc on their mental health. 


Being able to read, we may take for granted the amount we use the skill. When stressed, we’re able to lose ourselves in a book and escape. At the supermarket, a quick glance at the shelves is all we need to find the exact item we want. At work, we’re able to email back and forth with clients and colleagues. Those who lack essential literacy skills struggle with all these things. 

Being unable to function in everyday life leads to massive frustration. Those who struggle with their literacy are left feeling alone and inadequate as they struggle day to day. They’ll be unable to get a job or enjoy the same past times as their friends. They may turn their frustrations inward, self-esteem will drop, and they might blame themselves. 

Lack of communication

Everyone says that communication is key, but what happens when you struggle to properly communicate? Those with low literacy won’t be able to get across how they’re thinking and feeling. 

Their personal relationships may suffer because the necessary communication won’t be there. Disagreements will likely be blown out of proportion as they won’t feel heard or understood, or they’ll be frustrated that they feel themselves getting nowhere. Workplace relationships may also be an issue and jobs may be harder to hold down. 

Sense of hopelessness

Adults who lack essential literacy skills feel somewhat ostracised from society. They’ll feel alone in their struggle and like it’s their fault they’ve never developed the essential skills. 

They may want to improve but feel ashamed at where they’re currently at, which could leave them feeling hopeless and like their lives will always be this way. The frustrations they’re met with every day will likely build up and their mental health will take the hit. 

If we want our societies to be happy, healthy, and able to thrive, we need to tackle our nation’s literacy problem. It’s important we realise the ability to read and communicate isn’t an equally given right. For our general well-being we should make the effort to teach people the skills they need to find their place in society. 

At Coster Content, we’re doing all we can to tackle the literacy problem head-on and make the people of Manchester the best they can be. If you would like to know more, please get in touch on 0161 413 8418.

Alia CosterComment