Mental Health and money worries are often found in the same place, they work together like a little team trying to disrupt us from our happy state of mind, the problem with money worries and mental health issues is further complicated by the fact the one can be symptomatic of the other, and both can give the other strength over us. In survey carried out by leading debt charity Stepchange a massive 67% of people using the charity reported that they were suffering with Stress and anxiety, with another 47% claiming that this then led to depression.
When you think about it its not all that surprising that money worries can lead to poor mental health via stress and anxiety, what’s is less obvious to most people though is how poor mental health can lead to money worries. Money and mental health are often linked though. Poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse.
Here are just some of the ways we can all be affected by money worries and mental health:
- If you can’t work or have to take time off work, your income may be affected.
- If you feel very ‘high’ during a period of maniaor hypomania, this can lead to impulsive decisions about money that make sense at the time but leave you in lots of debt.
- You may spend money to make yourself feel better. Spending can give you a temporary high.
- You might feel anxious about doing things like talking on the phone, going to the bank or opening envelopes.
- You may feel forced to do a job you don’t like in order to pay the bills or pay off your debt.
- You may lose the motivation to keep control of your finances.
- You might find that spending any money at all or being in debt can make you feel very anxious– even if you actually have enough money.
- Dealing with the benefits system or being in debt may make you feel stressed, anxiousand worried about the future.
- You may not have enough money to spend on essentials or things to keep you well like housing, food, heating or medication.
- Money problems can affect relationshipsand your social life, which can have a knock-on effect on your mental health.
As you read the list above you may see things that you have experienced yourself, you may even be dealing with them right now. Whatever your situation you can be assured of one thing, there is always a way to deal with these problems which will result in you feeling better about yourself and also give you financial freedom away from your debts. There is a great deal of help and support waiting for you and we hope to send you in the right direction starting today.
Things we can do to help ourselves
Understanding your behaviour
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, here are some little tips which can help you understand your own personal situation.
- Think about whenyou spend money and why.
- Think about what aspects of money make your mental health worse– is it talking to people, opening envelopes, confrontation or when people get things wrong? Or is it something else?
- It could help to keep a diaryof your spending. Try and record what you spent and why. Keep a record of your mood too. This could help you work out any triggers or patterns.
- When you understand more about your behaviour you can think about what might help. Sometimes just being aware of these patterns can help you feel more in control.
Talk things through with someone you trust
Sharing your worries and talking things through can be a relief. But it isn’t always easy. Try and choose a quiet moment when the other person isn’t distracted. It can sometimes help to make notes first or even write everything in a letter.
Here are some people who might be able to help.
- A friend or family member.
- A support worker or health professional.
- Your local Mindmay be able to help you work out who to talk to. They may also be able to help you get an advocate (someone who can give you support to express your wishes and make sure your voice is heard).
- Student services. If you are a student, you might find it helpful to talk to your tutor or someone in student services. They may be able to help you apply for additional grants or bursaries.
- Peer support. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to family or friends, you could consider looking for some peer support from other people who have been there. See our info on peer supportfor some suggestions.
- Samaritans. Money worries can make you feel trapped and hopeless. If you are finding it difficult to see a way forward you could talk to Samaritansfor free on 116 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our page on suicidal feelings might help
Money, mental health and relationships
Money worries can put a strain on relationships for lots of different reasons, in fact money is one of the biggest issues when it comes to them breaking down, but if you can find a way to share that burden it can more often than not be resolved.
- You may find it hard to rely on your partner for money when you are unwell.
- You may find it hard to talk to your partner about your debt or spending.
- You and your partner may find it hard if they have to stop you spending when you’re unwell. You might feel angry or frustrated with each other.
Some people find it helpful to ask other people to help them manage their money when they are unwell.
If your partner stops you having access to money as a way of controlling you, this could be financial abuse. The Money Advice Service has more info on what kind of behaviour is financial abuse and where you can go for help.
By staying organised you will get control back over your spending habits, and before long you will be on the road to financial recovery. There are some great web sites out there that offer free advice and tools for managing your money such as Debt Busting Expert, which is run by leading finance guru Richard Fenton.
- Choose a regular time to look at your money and bills each week so that things don’t pile up.
- Put all important records and documents (for example, payslips, bank statements, bills and receipts) in one place, so that you can find them easily.
- Create a budget (the Money Advice Servicecan help).
- Look into bank accounts that allow you to put money aside for essentials in separate sub-accounts. This can help prevent you spending money you need for rent or bills.
- Try just taking as much money out as you want to spend each week.