How can we look after our mental health during a time of financial stress?
November 14 2022
The current state with the cost of living
Inflation, energy bills, rising household costs – the cost-of-living crisis is affecting everyone in some capacity across the UK.
This is having a knock-on effect on our mental health, especially for people who may be struggling to afford to meet their most basic needs. According to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, over 1.5 million people in the UK are currently experiencing both problem debt and mental health problems.
Those who are supporting people’s mental health are also seeing a rise in people affected by financial woes. According to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), two thirds (66%) of therapists say cost of living concerns are causing a decline in people’s mental health.
Money worries, especially long-term debt, or life-changing events such as a job loss, can often cause or exacerbate anxiety, depression, and stress. From here, it is easy to get caught in a ‘vicious cycle’ when a perilous position of financial stress can increase mental health issues, in turn making it harder to manage finances. Almost 40% of people with a mental illness say their financial situation worsens their mental health problems.
The knock-on effect to your wellbeing
There are secondary issues that can arise when dealing with financial stress:
- Sleep – One of the first things to suffer when encountering money problems is your sleep. Racing thoughts and anxiety about the future can impact your ability to both fall asleep and get a good night’s rest.
- Physical health – Financial worries can also affect your physical health. Prolonged stress, including financial stress, can produce physical pain and reduced pain tolerance, including headaches, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
- Self-esteem – Feeling like you’re unable to manage your money effectively can impact how you feel about yourself, for example, feelings of failure and unworthiness.
- Drinking – As a way of coping or ‘escape’ from the stress of money troubles, it can be tempting to turn to alcohol. As a depressant, alcohol can only worsen the issue and can also lead to impulsive spending.
Things you can do when you’re worrying about money
Seek help where you can
Togetherall isn’t a financial support service, but we are here to support the mental health of our community, no matter what they’re experiencing. Our anonymous network of peers is here to offer words of comfort and advice, with qualified practitioners on-hand to ensure you’re safe whilst seeking support.
Togetherall’s extensive library of courses and resources can also help you to manage your emotions surrounding financial strain if you don’t want to speak to others about your experiences.
We also have a free library of support articles that are accessible whether you’re registered with us or not, focusing on a range of topics, including sleep, managing stress, or setting goals.
If you need financial advice, speak to your bank, your landlord, or one of the services below if you are struggling to get by financially.
Prioritise your physical and mental health
Be kind to yourself and make self-care a priority. Even if it involves taking five minutes to take a walk and temporarily remove yourself from the situation, doing something that is going to positively impact your mental health can help break the cycle of negativity caused by financial worries.
Identify where you still have control. Debt and uncertainty can make us feel out of control, so maintaining a healthy routine can help give us a better perspective. We understand that anxious thoughts or depression associated with financial stress can make maintaining a routine difficult, so start small in building healthy habits and avoid triggers to both unhealthy coping mechanisms and impulsive spending.
There are more resources available for financial help below.
MoneyHelper brings together the support and services of three government-backed financial guidance providers: the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise to provide useful tools and impartial advice about your finances. Find out more here.
National Debtline is a charity providing free, independent, and expert debt advice to people across the UK. You can access National Debtline by phone, webchat, or get advice through the website. Find more information, including their cost-of-living hub, here.
We can all face problems that seem complicated or intimidating. Citizens Advice believe no one should have to face these problems without good quality, independent advice. Find more information and get help on their website.
Mental health charity Mind has a library of free resources to help people who are struggling with their mental health. They have also created a specific resource for helping to manage your money and your mental health, which you can find here.
Join Togetherall today
Togetherall is here to support your mental health if you’re worried about your finances – you might find that many people in our community have been where you are now. If your institution, employer, or local healthcare provider has provided you with Togetherall access, sign up below.