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Let’s talk about money and mental health

Did you know that 46% of people in problem debt also have a mental health problem?

And people who already have mental health problems are 3 and a half times more likely to be in problem debt than those without mental health problems.

It is evident that money worries and poor mental health go hand in hand.

Poor mental health can make it hard to earn and manage money which can lead to financial difficulties. And financial difficulties can cause stress, anxiety, or living without essentials which can lead to poor mental health.

This perpetuating cycle makes it harder to seek help or advice for both your finances and your mental health.

Whilst mental health is something being discussed more openly nowadays, money is something not so openly discussed. For many people, it is still a very taboo topic and a study at the University College London found that people are seven times more likely to tell a stranger about their sex life than discuss what is in their bank account – crazy!

Here are some ways that poor mental health can affect your finances:

  • Lack of energy or low mood can cause you to have low motivation to manage your finances
  • Emotional spending causing you to overspend
  • An inability to work or study can affect your income, therefore reducing the amount of money you do have
  • Might not be able to afford essentials (e.g. food, heating, therapy, medication)
  • Unable to use essential services (due to difficulties making phone calls or opening post)

86% of respondents to a Money and Mental Health survey of nearly 5,500 people with experience of mental health problems said that their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse.

And here are some commons ways that money and problem debt can have an impact on your mental health:

  • Having problem debt can cause feelings of overwhelm or stress
  • Losing sleep due to money worries can affect both your mood and energy levels
  • The overwhelm of handling finances can trigger feeling of anxiety or panic
  • Lack of support from creditors and others in your environment can cause debt-related anxiety

72% of respondents to Money and Mental Health’s survey said that their mental health problems had made their financial situation worse.

Sorting out your finances can feel really overwhelming – whether you have debt, or struggle to manage your money, the best thing to do is try to take it one step at a time.

The most important thing you can do to reduce the impact of money on your mental health is to take action.

Ignoring money problems, unfortunately, does not make them go away, in fact, it can make the worse.

Below are some top tips to help you face any money problems:

1. Create a budget

When you create a realistic budget, balancing how much money you have coming in, and how much you have going out on bills and other expenses, it helps you manage your cash flow.

You can use a spreadsheet (I have a free monthly budget planner you can download by clicking here) or you can use a pen and paper if you prefer.

If you do not have a regular income, money advice service has a useful article on how to budget –

2. Automate your payments

Set up payments to clear debt, put money into an emergency fund or savings, to pay off your credit card etc. to ensure money goes out automatically. The stress of thinking and organising these payments is reduced every month and it makes it a lot easier to manage your finances

3. Do not bury your head in the sand

The best thing is to tackle it head-on – when you are more aware of your financial situation, it helps alleviate some of the anxiety around worrying whether you can afford bills or essentials. Checking your bank balance regularly is important – avoiding checking only adds to the feeling of overwhelm and it will help you to understand your spending habits too.

4. Use cash instead of a card

Some people find it much easier to manage money if they have physical cash. It means they are less likely to overspend on a credit card or spend money they do not have. This is an effective budgeting tool too called the Cash Envelope Budget. This way you take out the amount of cash you want to spend, and you cannot spend outside of that.

5. Overspending Tips

Consider putting obstacles in the way of spending or removing the tools that make it easy for you to overspend. For example, delete your card details from your phone, unsubscribe from all marketing emails and avoid taking out a credit card altogether so the temptation is not there.

If you struggle with poor mental health and do not feel confident managing your finances or are in problem debt, then please know that there is help available.

Try to share your worries with family members, close friends or even a professional. There will be people out there who can support you – whether you need emotional support or help with practical tasks such as creating a budget.

6. Seek Help

There are some incredible debt charities such as StepChange, Citizens Advice Bureau Debt Management and Debt Support Trust – reach out if you feel you need some professional support.