Tuesday 10th October marked World Mental Health Day 2017. It’s a subject many of us may be unsure about, or even feel slightly uneasy at. Yet, given 1 in 4 of us have a mental health problem (ONS, 2007,) it’s something we should certainly become more informed about.
When it comes to money and finances, that need becomes all the greater. With less than a quarter of people with a long term mental health condition in employment (ONS), it comes as no surprise that those experiencing acute mental health challenges face a particularly unique test when it comes to their own finances.
To take the most obvious instance of the link between money and mental health, a huge source of anxiety can be buying impulsively. The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (2017) recently revealed while around a third of the UK adult population regret their impulse spending, for those with a mental health condition the figure is closer to 55%.
That type of spending can quite easily lead to a spiralling of debts. While it may help quell an emotion in the first instant, that feeling of reward will likely quickly dissipate.
Furthermore, it isn’t just the spending habits that come with various mental health conditions that pose a risk. Despite the ONS (2003) finding that people with mental ill-health are more likely than other disability groups to want to work, they are the group that find their careers most likely to be hit.
With mental health charity Mind making their theme for the day workplace wellbeing, now seems as good a time as ever to take stock of the impacts mental ill-health can have on those in the workplace. Not only are people with mental health conditions more than twice as likely to lose their job as the general population (Mental Health & Social Exclusion Unit 2004), only 4 in 10 employers said they would be prepared to hire someone with a psychological illness (as opposed to 6 in 10 likely to hire someone with a physical ailment.)
It’s not just the impact on the individual either. The Sainsbury Centre (2007) estimate absenteeism due to mental health costs employers £15.1 billion per year- twice as much as other causes of people missing work. It’s a no-win situation for all parties.
If they’re some of the costs, what are the solutions? It’s essential to remember that age-old adage of “one man’s medicine may be another man’s poison.” Never could that be more appropriate than when it comes to mental health. Yet with regards to money, we can all begin to take some steps to give ourselves a helping hand, or a cushion for when things become a bit too much.
Firstly, even for those of us seemingly ‘healthy’ without mental health difficulties, it’s imperative to remember that issues can arise at any point in our lives. That means it’s incredibly beneficial to plan ahead. It’s something that can be cushioned somewhat by an emergency fund gathered by our day-to-day savings accounts.
By putting a-side a sum each month, we can protect ourselves for if and when we need to take time off work to recover. Just by budgeting correctly and putting money aside, we’re also helping our general feeling of security, which in many ways, can help in reducing stress levels. If you’re concerned about your future, investing in to a suitable pension fund can help provide that extra peace of mind in later years.
Yet for more than a few, if you do experience mental health difficulties, quite often you can find yourself in financial troubles. Fortunately, there are some fantastic services available to those in debt, struggling with income and expenditure, or in need of advice with regards to certain benefits that may be available to them.
Some great places to start include (for those in the UK):
- Citizens Advice (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/)
- Money Advice Service (https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/ignore-the-impulse-and-help-your-wallet-and-mental-health)
- Rethink (https://www.rethink.org/living-with-mental-illness/money-issues-benefits-employment)
- Mind (https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/money-and-mental-health/#.WdyO-mhSzIU)
- Mind Cymru (https://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/mind-cymru/)
- Hafal (http://www.hafal.org/recovery/finance-money/)
- Support in Mind Scotland (https://www.supportinmindscotland.org.uk/mentalhealthmoneyadviceservicemanager)
- MyGov (https://www.mygov.scot/financial-support-mental-illness/)
If you wish to plan ahead to safeguard you and your family’s financial security should mental health issues be encountered, a great place to start is by seeking advice from your financial adviser. Also by browsing through the links above, you can gain a good head start in knowing what to look out for.