There’s an indisputable relationship between mental health and money. Understanding this relationship and learning more about the role that money plays in your life can help you if you’re struggling, and it can help you to get things back on track.
We aim to help you realise that you can improve the relationship between mental health and money, ensuring you aren’t completely overwhelmed by your financial situation.
How does your mental health affect the way you handle money?
The state of your mental health can influence how you perceive and handle money. When you’re not thinking clearly or lack motivation, developing a productive approach towards earning and spending money can be difficult. Specifically, your mental health can affect your finances in the following ways:
· If you’re struggling with depression, you might think there’s little point in putting together a budget or a financial plan as you’re struggling to see a future.
· What’s more because spending money and buying nice things provides a temporary high, you might make poor short-term financial decisions, splurging on expensive things that you can’t necessarily afford.
· If you suffer from mania or hyper mania, you’re more likely to make impulsive financial decisions that you haven’t thought through.
· Should you suffer from anxiety, you might avoid crucial financial management tasks like paying your taxes and bills due to the stresses associated with doing so.
· Anxiety can also cause you to spend very little money, forcing you to remain within your shell and miss out on opportunities with your friends and family.
How does money management affect mental health?
It’s important to realise that money and mental health are a two-way relationship, affecting each other. Just as your mental state can affect the way that you manage your finances, the way that you manage your money can influence your mental health in the following ways:
· There are many situations associated with financial management that can trigger anxiety, such as opening envelopes from utility companies, completing a self-assessment tax form, and even checking a monthly bank statement.
· More generally, the time you spend worrying about money can affect every aspect of your life, from your performance at work to your sleep quality.
· If you’re struggling to make enough money to support yourself and your family each month, it can lead to feelings of worthlessness and may even drive an inferiority complex.
· Money problems can also have a significant impact on the relationships in your life, and it might cause you to shy away from your closest friends and family members.
· Many people worry about having enough money throughout the month to pay household bills and debts, which can significantly contribute to heightened stress and anxiety.
Feelings associated with money
The way that you feel about money can also have a significant impact on your mental health and well-being. The thing about money and your feelings is that they change over time, and you might experience the following feelings associated with the way that you manage your finances:
· Stress is perhaps the most significant negative emotion associated with money. Worrying about not having enough money to live your life and support your family is incredibly stressful and can impact every aspect of your life.
· If you’re struggling to live up to your (or other people’s) expectations, you might feel ashamed of the way that you’re managing your money.
· Being unable to provide the best possible life for your family can lead to guilt and hopelessness, which can influence practically every aspect of your life.
· Struggling with earning and saving money can cause you to feel afraid and constantly nervous, particularly when envelopes drop through the front door for your attention.
· Should you come into a decent amount of money for a short period, you may experience a sudden high. This is ephemeral, and it doesn’t usually last, but during the high, you might make poor money decisions because you currently have disposable income.
How to cope with financial stress
While there’s no quick fix to your financial issues and how you think about money, the good news is that you can take some relatively simple steps to improve the relationship between your mental health and money. After all, it’s primarily a mindset issue, and re-evaluating how you think about and deal with your cash can hugely impact your general health and well-being. Some things you can try to improve your financial management include:
· Open up to someone you trust about how money is making you feel. This could be a parent, a sibling, a close friend, or even a support worker or doctor. Involving someone else in your journey can help you identify ways to improve how you manage your finances, and chatting through your problems can get a load off your chest.
· Include your partner in your financial management and seek their support and advice. Many people retain their financial independence when in a relationship, and while this can be a good thing, it’s not always advantageous. Including your partner in your budgeting and financial planning can alleviate some of your money issues and make you feel better about managing and spending your money.
· If you struggle with overspending, limit your buying opportunities. Remove apps like Amazon and other retailers from your phone and think carefully about the accounts that you follow on social media. In today’s digital age, it’s easy to complete a transaction in seconds, so add some barriers to prevent you from making impulsive purchases online.
Establish some simple spending rules that change how you complete purchases. Some things to try include:
· Avoid using your credit cards and always pay with a debit card or cash.
· For big purchases (over £50, for instance), wait one day before completing the purchase to give yourself time to think about it.
· Speak to your partner before making any purchase to discuss the merit of doing so.
· If you’re struggling with your finances and it’s taking over your life, it’s time to seek help, as we explore below.
Where to find help?
The good news is that there are several helpful resources that you can turn to to find help with money issues and to improve your financial management more generally. Some of our recommendations include the following:
· Visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and access their wealth of free resources to help you with budgeting and financial planning. You can also speak to one of their advisors to help improve your finances.
· Reach out to a charitable organisation like Mind if you struggle with mental health. Call the Samaritans and speak to someone over the phone anonymously if you feel like you're in a crisis situation.
· If a gambling addiction is fuelling your financial woes, consider joining a group like Gamblers Anonymous and use GAMSTOP’s free gambling restriction service.
· Should your debts be too much for you to pay now, contact your bank or building society to discuss a repayment plan or debt restructuring. You will be surprised at how helpful banks can be when managing debt repayment plans if you’re open and honest about how such debts affect your mental health.
· Last but certainly not least, turn to your loved ones for financial guidance. While many of us might feel ashamed to do so, involving your family and friends in your budgeting and your mental health journey can be the difference between failure and success. So, don’t be proud – seek help from your nearest and dearest. After all, that’s what they’re there for.