It’s time to talk about the toxic link between money and mental health.
Money worries, like mental health, is a subject that a lot of us still hesitate to talk about, especially with family and friends.
Yet people with mental health problems are three times as likely to be in problem debt, plus financial stress is one of the main triggers which can cause mental health issues to escalate and develop, especially depression and anxiety.
Research indicates that one in four people are affected by poor mental health and, of these, around four million will also struggle with their financial wellbeing.
It’s clear that when people are experiencing mental health difficulties, dealing with their money can become even more challenging.
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute surveyed nearly 5,500 people and found clear links between mental health and financial trouble.
• 72% of those surveyed said that their mental health problems have made their financial situation worse, and not just as a result of having less money to spend.
• 93% say they spend more when they are unwell.
• 92% find it harder to make financial decisions.
• 59% have taken out a loan that they wouldn’t otherwise have done.
• Of those who have taken out new credit in the last year, more than a third (38%) said that their mental health at the time left them unable to remember what they had been told about the loan.
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, Founder and Chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:”We know financial difficulties can have a serious detrimental impact on mental health. It’s clear that people with mental health problems are spending more when they are unwell, finding it harder to make financial decisions and in the worst cases, actually taking on new credit that they otherwise wouldn’t have done.
“This is extremely worrying. Our vision is of a world where mental health problems don’t lead to financial difficulty, and where problems with money can be managed without long-term impacts on our mental health. To get there, we need the financial services industry, health and policy-makers to take this issue as seriously as we do with practical solutions.”
So if you’re experiencing stress because you’re struggling financially, what can you do?
Keep seeing your friends, keep your CV up-to-date, and try to keep paying the bills. Taking up a form of exercise can also help improve your mood if you’re feeling low or depressed.
If it looks like you’re going into debt, get advice on how to prioritise your debts. When people feel anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to others. Talking about your problems with someone you trust, such as a friend, family member or professional advisor, and facing up to these situations can sometimes make them easier. For financial help, you can contact us here at Money Advisor.
Your mental health can affect how you manage money in lots of different ways. Recognising those patterns can help you find solutions that work for you. Think about when you spend money and why, plus which aspects of money make your mental health worse. It may also be worth keeping a diary of your spending to keep track.
Choose a regular time to look at your money and bills each week so that things don’t pile up. Create a budget or try just taking as much money out as you want to spend each week.
For some people with money worries, alcohol can become a problem. You may drink more than usual as a way of dealing with your emotions, or just to fill time. But alcohol won’t help you deal with your problems and could add to your stress.
Try to get up at your normal time and stick to your routine. If you lose your routine, it can also affect your eating. You may stop cooking, eat snacks instead of having proper meals, or miss breakfast because you’re still in bed; all of this can make your mental health worse.
Because mental illness is a clinical condition with physiological causes, sometimes it isn’t as simple as the tips outlined above. If you are still struggling, it may be worth going to see your GP. They can advise you about appropriate treatment if they think you have a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.
Your GP may be able to help you with access to talking therapies. Talking therapies, such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), are often used to help people who have suicidal thoughts and usually involve talking about your feelings with a professional.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to someone who can help.
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected].
Mind promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems. You can phone them on 0300 123 3393, Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is an excellent resource for young men who are feeling unhappy. As well as their website, CALM also has a helpline (0800 58 58 58).
For a full list of mental health helplines, visit the NHS website.