Money and mental health
In the current climate, financial issues can be another unwelcome burden on your wellbeing. If money is currently causing you stress, here are some tools to improve your mental health and details of organisations who can help ease the pressure
If the start of a new year has you worried about money, you’re not alone. Many of us, from all walks of life, have to deal with financial stresses, strains and uncertainty.
Whether problems stem from the loss of work, escalating debt, unexpected expenses or a combination of different factors, financial worry is one of the most common stressors in today’s world.
Financial problems can affect your mental health in many ways. For example, you might be feeling, behaving or thinking differently to usual. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder.
Fear plays a huge part in our emotions regarding money. Feeling low or anxious is a normal response when you have financial problems, but we often jump to the worst-case scenario: Can I pay my bills? Will staff be paid on time?
Can I put food on the table? When we let fear take over, our stress increases and we make decisions that are often not in our best interest. This can soon become a vicious cycle:
Financial problems adversely impact your mental health: The stress of other money issues leaves you feeling depressed or anxious. It can lead to poor sleep and eating habits and affect our relationships.
The decline in your mental health makes it harder to manage money: You may find it harder to concentrate or lack the energy to tackle a mounting pile of bills. Or you may lose income by taking time off work due to anxiety or depression.
These difficulties managing money lead to more financial problems and worsening mental health problems, and so on: You become trapped in a downward spiral of increasing money problems and declining mental health.
Luckily, there are things you can do to keep on top of your financial stress. The first is to look at what you can do to help cope with stress, such as having regular exercise, eating well and limiting alcohol intake. The second is to look at practical things, such as budget planning, raising funds, or seeking advice from specialist debt advisers.
There are also several simple things you can do straight away to ensure you’re looking after yourself:
Stay active: Keep seeing your friends and family; they are our primary source of support. If you have more time because you’re not at work, do some form of exercise – physical activity can improve your mood if you’re feeling low.
Face your fears: Don’t bury your head in the sand. When people feel anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to others. Some people can lose their confidence about driving or travelling. If this happens, facing these situations will generally make them more manageable.
Don’t drink too much alcohol: For some people, alcohol can become a problem. You may drink more than usual as a way of dealing with your emotions or to fill up some time. But alcohol will not help you deal with your problems.
Don’t give up your daily routine: Get up at your regular time and stick to your usual routine. If you lose your way, it can affect your eating – you may stop cooking, miss breakfast because you’re still in bed, or eat snacks instead of having proper meals.
In addition, there are plenty of external organisations who can offer help on how to manage your debt:
Citizens Advice Bureau: The Citizens Advice Bureau is an excellent place to get information on how to deal with debt, budgeting, what you’re entitled to if you’re made redundant, borrowing money and mortgage problems. Find your nearest one at www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Budgeting and savings apps: Understanding how your financial problems started is key to getting your finances on the straight and narrow. Budgeting apps can help you understand how much and where you spend your money. Once you are on the correct debt recovery path, savings apps like Plum and MoneyBox can help you save money too.
The UK Government website: The GOV.UK website has sections on redundancy and dismissals, benefits and managing debt and is always worth visiting to find out more.
How can we help?
While a private medical scheme will not solve your money problems, you need to be fighting fit to get through this period of financial stress. Through our partnership with EC Insurance Services (ECIS), SELECT Members have access to a range of healthcare options to support both mental and physical health. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ecins.co.uk
LENDING AN EAR
Helpful organisations that are happy to offer expert advice include:
Money Advice Service: 0300 500 5000
National Debtline: 0808 808 4000
StepChange Debt Charity: 0800 138 1111
Citizens Advice Scotland: 0808 800 9060
By Vicki Leslie
Client Relationship Manager,
EC Insurance Services Limited