It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is stress.
According to research, more than three in four Brits feel overwhelmed by stress, especially because of their financial situation.
Stressed about money
They found that the majority of UK residents (77%) are stressed about money, with 17% describing themselves as “very stressed” about their finances.
On top of this, 14% said they worry about money every single day, while 12% worry about money two or three times a week.
Money clearly takes a toll on wellbeing as 80% of those surveyed noted that they’d be happier if they earned more money, and 20% said they’re genuinely scared to check their bank account.
Perhaps the most worrying part is how nobody seems willing to talk about money struggles. 20% of people think they’re bad with money, yet 38% of those surveyed said they don’t feel comfortable talking about their money struggles.
In addition to this, a study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation which surveyed 4,619 adults across the UK found that almost three in four Brits (74%) have been so stressed at least once over the last year that they’ve felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
As reported by The Guardian, that stress can be so damaging to people’s mental health and wellbeing that a third of people (32%) have been left feeling suicidal, and one in six have self-harmed as a direct result.
Isabella Goldie, director of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time but it is not being taken as seriously as physical health concerns.”
Can employers do more?
Work issues, including working outside normal hours, and a poor work-life balance, is one of the common causes of stress, according to the report. In the Mental Health Foundation’s report, 22% of respondents said money problems, especially debt, is a key trigger for their stress.
Mental health experts hope the shocking statistics will encourage employers, MPs and health workers to do more to reduce stress and its debilitating effects, as well as providing more help to those affected.
The report adds that chronic or long-term stress can affect sleep, memory and eating habits and increase the risk of irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers and heart disease. A number of people affected respond by over-eating, drinking, taking drugs or smoking.
Stress can also lead to anxiety, depression and relapses of schizophrenia. People living in poverty, social isolation, in minority communities, or those with long-term health problems are most likely to experience serious stress.
The report found that young adults are the age group most vulnerable to stress.
Overall, 83% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they had been left overwhelmed or unable to cope, with substantial numbers of young adults adding they had felt suicidal (39%) or self-harmed (29%) because of stress.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, added: “This survey shows just how severe the impact of stress can be on our lives, whether we have a mental health diagnosis or not. That a third of people have felt suicidal as a result of stress in the last year is staggering.
“More must be done to support people at the earliest possible stage so that stress does not spiral into an overwhelming and damaging situation.”
Talk to someone
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.
You can also read our tips about dealing with money stress and improving your mental health here.