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Mental health and money

13 May 2024 | 3 minutes to read

Mental health is a broad term that can encompass anything from anxiety on a particular issue at a point in time, to diagnosed conditions that require medical intervention and treatment. Like physical health, social wellbeing and financial health, mental wellbeing is very individual and can vary over time. But like every area of wellbeing, it’s something that we all need to be aware of, to check in on from time to time and to know when and where to get help when needed.

Worrying about money is a major cause of anxiety. A third of UK adults, 32%, said not being able to afford to pay their bills made them anxious. And over a third, 37%, of those with anxiety, say they felt ashamed to talk about it. (Mental Health Foundation May 2023.)

Mental health and money can create the double taboo, with many people unwilling to talk about money troubles and others not willing to talk about their anxiety.

So, in Mental Health Awareness month in particular, if worrying about money is something that contributes to your anxieties, the most important things are to not ignore the issue or to try to struggle on alone. Talk to someone about it; there’s help available and there’s always something that can be done to take your finances to a better place and reduce money worries.

With money, there are some things that are within our control and others that are not. The plan is to do what we can on the things we can control, and to put measures in place to make us more resilient to weather the things that are outside of our control. Here are some examples:

Within our control

  1. Review your budget to cut out unnecessary spend, to get the best deals possible on things like your energy, phone, subscription services, insurance, and to consider reducing or pausing some savings plans for a short period, until you get back on track.
  2. Review your workplace benefits to see if there are any that can be used to reduce your regular costs, such as food shopping or gym membership.
  3. Use relevant services made available by your employer, such as a hardship loan; workplace loans at a lower rate; mental health first aiders; and your Employee Assistance Programme. Your employer will definitely want to know if you are struggling, so they can do what they can to help.
  4. For mortgages, rent and loans make sure you talk to your provider if you have difficulty in making the repayments – reputable providers will often be willing to agree an alternative repayment plan.
  5. Seek help early – there are many charities and organisations that can help such as Citizens Advice, National Debtline, StepChange, Money Helper, Samaritans.

Outside of our control

There will always be things outside of our control that may impact our money. From history, we know that difficult times do pass. 

Until then:

  1. Ensure you have savings in easy to access accounts/investments in case you need to rely on them.
  2. Use your emergency fund if you need to. You can top it back up when your finances get back on track.
  3. Review whether financial protection such as income protection or ill health cover will give you greater peace of mind for very little outlay.
  4. With any medium and long-term investments, remember these are designed to perform over periods of 5 years or more, so short-term market volatility is likely to iron itself out over the longer term.

Everyone will worry about money at one time or another, and in the UK there are still economic challenges that mean we are all focusing more than usual on money. If you are feeling anxious about your finances, remember that there is always something that can be done to improve things, and it’s important not to struggle on alone – seek help early, including talking to your employer.



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