Money and Mental Health

Money and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse.

Here are some examples of how your mental health and your money worries might affect each other:

  • If you can't work or have to take time off work, your income may be affected.
  • If you feel very 'high' during a period of mania or hypomania, this can lead to impulsive decisions about money that make sense at the time but leave you in lots of debt.
  • You may spend money to make yourself feel better. Spending can give you a temporary high.
  • You might feel anxious about doing things like talking on the phone, going to the bank or opening envelopes.
  • You may feel forced to do a job you don't like in order to pay the bills or pay off your debt.
  • You may lose the motivation to keep control of your finances.
  • You might find that spending any money at all or being in debt can make you feel very anxious – even if you actually have enough money.
  • Dealing with the benefits system or being in debt may make you feel stressed, anxious and worried about the future.
  • You may not have enough money to spend on essentials or things to keep you well like housing, food, heating or medication.
  • Money problems can affect relationships and your social life, which can have a knock-on effect on your mental health.

What can I do to help myself?

Understand your behaviour

Your mental health can affect how you manage money in lots of different ways. Recognising those patterns can help you find solutions that work for you.

  • Think about when you spend money and why.
  • Think about what aspects of money make your mental health worse is it talking to people, opening envelopes, confrontation or when people get things wrong? Or is it something else?
  • It could help to keep a diary of your spending. Try and record what you spent and why. Keep a record of your mood too. This could help you work out any triggers or patterns.
  • When you understand more about your behaviour you can think about what might help. Sometimes just being aware of these patterns can help you feel more in control.

Talk things through with someone you trust

Sharing your worries and talking things through can be a relief. But it isn't always easy. Try and choose a quiet moment when the other person isn't distracted. It can sometimes help to make notes first or even write everything in a letter.

Money, mental health and relationships

Money worries can put a strain on relationships for lots of different reasons.

  • You may find it hard to rely on your partner for money when you are unwell.
  • You may find it hard to talk to your partner about your debt or spending.
  • You and your partner may find it hard if they have to stop you spending when you're unwell. You might feel angry or frustrated with each other.

Some people find it helpful to ask other people to help them manage their money when they are unwell.

Get organised

  • Choose a regular time to look at your money and bills each week so that things don’t pile up.
  • Put all important records and documents (for example, payslips, bank statements, bills and receipts) in one place, so that you can find them easily.
  • Create a budget.
  • Look into bank accounts that allow you to put money aside for essentials in separate sub-accounts. This can help prevent you spending money you need for rent or bills.
  • Try just taking as much money out as you want to spend each week.

Get professional advice

It can feel very hard to talk about money problems and ask for help. You may find it hard to do things that make you anxious or tired, for example using the phone, waiting for an appointment or going to an unfamiliar building.

If you've had a bad experience with an advisor or a bank in the past, you might feel as if there's no point in trying again. But there are lots of places and people who want to help you. Sometimes getting professional advice can be a real relief.

Look after yourself

Money worries can have a big impact on your general wellbeing, which can sometimes make it even harder to take positive steps. It can help to try and notice when your mood and behaviour start to change and think about what you can do to help yourself. This can help you feel more in control and prevent money problems getting worse.

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Written by: MIND in Bradford

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