Ignoring problems with money or your mental health can make the other worse – but there are things you can do to reduce the impact and stay in control.
Often people think of mental health in relation to serious conditions such as bipolar or depression, but it’s something we should all consider – not just for ourselves but for friends and family. Mental health is pretty much how you’re feeling and functioning. It can be good, or ok.
But all of us will have moments where it’s bad – even if it’s not a condition that might require longer-term management or medication. Whenever we’re feeling down, feeling stressed or feeling lonely we’re experiencing poor mental health. And there’s a good chance any of these can impact our finances.
On a more severe end of the scale, it could mean you need to miss work, causing you to lose money. It’s common for people to get anxious when dealing with any kind of admin, but when that’s bills or bank statements that can be a larger issue. Motivation can be a problem, leading to important money matters getting ignored. Or perhaps moments of depression or mania could prompt people to spend more money – money they don’t have.
The worst-case scenario is that these scenarios lead to unmanageable debts – but it can work the other way too. The two really are linked. Money problems can feed depression and anxiety, and that in turn can impact on relationships, work and family. Big life changes can make a difference to both finances and mental health too – so having a baby or losing a loved one.
So it’s not something we should dismiss or hide from. It’s important to take some action before anything happens.
Some things you can do to manage your finances if you’re likely to experience poor mental health
Automate as much as possible – this means having standing orders and Direct Debits set up so you don’t miss payments when it gets too much to deal with your finances. Here’s more on automating your savings.
Keep on top – When you’re feeling good, build a budget so you know exactly how much have and spend. Then use apps such as Yolt to keep track of balance and spending. Find out if your bank will send text or app notifications.
Use webchats – If you don’t want to pick up the phone, look for a webchat option
Give access to a family member or friend – They can deal with banks and bills when you can’t – but got to have absolute trust them
Make it harder to spend – Don’t take cards out with you and don’t let browsers remember card details. Or you can just make sure you don’t have credit cards at all. Here’s a video on ways to stop impluse spending.
Use website blockers – These can help stop impluse spending too. A couple are Icebox where rather than “add to basket” you “put on ice” and can’t buy for a period you set, and there’s Cold Turkey which completely blocks access to websites you specify.
Talk to your bank – Many will have a dedicated support team who can work through different options to help you manage your account.
Get help with your finances
Get free debt help – It’s important to deal with money problems before they become a crisis, but it’s never too late to seek help. And importantly you shouldn’t pay for this. Places like Stepchange and NationalDebtline are good options. The Money Advice Service has a free tool to find free advice near you, whether that’s face to face, over the phone or via online chat.
There are also lots of resources about money problems and poor mental wellbeing in this Money Advice Service article.
Get help with your mental health
Take the NHS money worries test – Use this questionnaire to help identify if money worries are impacting your health
Visit your GP – Your doctor can help you find treatment
Listen to my podcast discussing money and mental health. There are two episodes on the topic