Money and mental health are often linked.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, The Debt Advisor is encouraging people to open up the conversation around money and mental health.
Worries about money, much like mental health, is a subject that a lot of us still hesitate to talk about, especially with family and friends.
Bev Budsworth, MD of The Debt Advisor, said: “Debt stress is up there with death and divorce as the most debilitating issues to deal with. The primitive area of our brains will continuously loop around the problem whilst we are in our “flight or fight” mode.
“It’s vital that we take steps to break this cycle which will adversely affect your mental health. There is a helpful tips guide below on looking after your mental well being.
“The University of Nottingham have also produced a very helpful piece on primitive brain and the flight or fight response which you may find helpful.”
Mental health and money stress can develop into a vicious circle where poor mental health makes it more difficult to manage your money, while worrying about money causes your mental health to worsen.
The link between mental health and financial wellbeing
As is evident, there is a clear link between mental health and financial wellbeing.
People with mental health problems are three times as likely to be in problem debt, while financial stress is one of the main triggers which can cause mental health issues to escalate and develop, especially depression and anxiety.
Research has found that one in four people are affected by poor mental health, and around four million of those will also struggle with their finances.
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, 38% said that their mental health at the time left them unable to remember what they had been told about the loan.
Other examples of how mental health and money stresses may affect each other, include:
- If you are unable to work or have to take time off work due to your mental health, your income may be affected
- You may spend more money when you are feeling down to temporarily make yourself feel better
- You may lose motivation to deal with your finances
- Speaking to your creditors over the phone or receiving letters or emails from them may make you anxious and stressed
- Dealing with the benefits system may make you anxious or depressed
- You may not have enough money to spend on essentials or bills which could affect your mental wellbeing.
It’s clear that when people are experiencing mental health difficulties, dealing with money can become even more challenging.
How to look after your mental health
If you’re experiencing stress because of your financial situation or your mental health is causing you money issues, there are steps you can take to potentially improve your mental wellbeing.
1. Get organised
Organising yourself can help you to get more on top of your finances and your life.
Pick a regular time to look at your money and bills each week so that issues don’t pile up.
Creating a weekly or monthly budget will also make a big difference, as well as scheduling all your direct debits and standing orders to come out around the same date at the beginning of the month and only taking as much money out as you want to spend each week.
You can even get organised by signing up to classes to learn new skills which can also give you a sense of achievement and boost confidence.
2. Stay active
Taking up a form of exercise can help improve your mood if you’re feeling depressed or anxious.
You don’t have to go the gym – going for a walk or doing an activity that you enjoy (such as playing football
3. Get advice
Connect with the people around you, your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.
If it looks like you’re falling into debt, you should talk to those close to you, rather than avoiding any conversations about money.
Facing up to your financial situation by discussing it with people you trust can help you feel better about the situation and understand you are not alone.
4. Understand your behaviour
Your mental health can affect how you manage your money.
You should also be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’ and it can positively change your outlook and how you approach new challenges.
5. Don’t drink too much alcohol
When dealing with stress about money, it can be easy to drink too much alcohol as a way to deal with your emotions.
Mental health problems can be linked to drinking too much alcohol and they can also cause people to drink more than they should.
But alcohol won’t help you deal with your problems and could add to your stress.
6. Maintain a daily routine
Try to get up at a normal time and stick to your regular routine.
If you lose your routine, it can affect your sleeping or your eating. Lack of sleep can have a negative effect on mental health, while if you lose your routine, you may stop cooking, eat snacks instead of proper meals or miss breakfast because you’re still in bed.
All of this can make your mental health worse.
7. See your GP
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.
A doctor can advise you on appropriate treatment if you think you have a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, and may be able to help you with access to talking therapies.
Talking therapies, such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), are sometimes used to help people who have suicidal thoughts and usually involve talking about your feelings with a professional.
8. 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@example.com.
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.
If you are struggling with debt, The Debt Advisor may be able to help advise you on how to better manage your finances or help you to deal with debts.
The Debt Advisor Ltd is authorised and regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority, number 659920.
This means we are able to offer debt advice and deliver both formal and informal debt solutions. We hope that the information and debt advice on this site including Frequently Asked Questions, will help inform you.
There are sources of free debt advice and services. You can find out more by contacting the Money Advice Service on 0800 138 7777 or by visiting their website.