Mental health and finances – two things we should always be taking care of. But it can be struggle to look after them both at the same time. If your relationship with money is affecting your mental health, here are five things you should know.
According to the Money Advice Service, at any one time 2.7 million people in the UK are struggling with both mental health and debt problems. This is a big problem. If it’s not affecting you, chances are it’s affecting someone you know.
It’s so important that last year Martin Lewis, the founder of Moneysavingexpert.com, founded the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute to try to shed some light on the situation. He says that the link between mental health and money is a “marriage made in hell” and that while many people think they are the only ones experiencing problems, in reality “it’s so common it’s ordinary.”
If you have mental health issues, you may find it harder to get or keep a job and to manage your finances. And the opposite is also true, money problems can trigger mental health issues. The stress and anxiety caused by juggling debts can lead to depression. If you’re not sure whether you are being affected, try taking this short online NHS test.
Online shopping means we can get our hands on whatever we want at any time of the day or night, with just a tap of the screen. It’s easy to get into a cycle of feeling bad, spending the money we don’t have to cheer ourselves up and then feeling worse as a result. It’s also easy to feel under pressure to spend money just because our friends are doing so.
Fixing finances won’t instantly fix related mental health issues, but it will take away a source of anxiety and a potential trigger for problems.
The first step is to draw up a budget, to understand what you are spending and where you can cut back. There are lots of great budgeting apps like Squirrel which help you keep a close eye on where your money is going.
If you need help in tackling your online spending, the these suggestions here from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute can block you from spending at certain sites or at certain times or even just make you pause between deciding you want something and buying it, so you can sleep on it and make sure it’s the right decision. Here’s how you can avoid making purchases you’ll later regret.
If you’re worried that a friend or family member is struggling with money and mental health issues, don’t just ignore the situation. Talk with them, offer your help, and let them know you understand what they’re going through. Take a look at our advice for having difficult conversations about money.
There are lots of people who will give free advice to help you get back on track:
Don’t suffer in silence - speak up and start addressing the problem. Let’s tackle this together!