As many of you know, May is mental health awareness month; and here at Incredible we believe it’s important to understand its relationship with your finances, and how you can manage the two side-by-side.
The Money and Mental Health Institute found that 46% of those in problem debt (when one is unable to pay their debt) also have a mental illness, and 39% of adults with a mental health problem said their financial situation had worsened their symptoms. It’s clear the two are intrinsically linked, and more help needs to be made available for those navigating both their finances and mental health.
Mental health can affect your finances in multiple ways. For some with illnesses such as depression, paying bills and managing their financial situation can become a chore not worth doing; as they don’t see a future or a reason to complete these tasks. For others with conditions such as Bipolar Disorder, the brief positive mental stimulation spending can generate leads to overspending, and consequently an easier environment for debt to accumulate. What’s more, as mental illness can affect your work life, some find themselves missing work or unemployed altogether as a result of their health - adding to their financial concerns and intensifying their symptoms.
The most important advice we can offer is reaching out for medical support, as help is available and fundamental in your mental health journey. Mind Charity have also put together a useful list of tips to help you manage your spending habits:
- Tell someone you trust about the warning signs you might be overspending, or signs you’re struggling with your mental health.
- If you have guilt surrounding overspending, give your cards to someone you trust or put them somewhere difficult to access - and don't save your card details into websites.
- Delete apps where you usually overspend, or apps which encourage you to spend. (If you get tempted by adverts on social media, limit how much time you spend on it.)
- Distract yourself with something else that makes you feel good - such as exercise, reading or seeing a friend!
- Consider telling your bank that you have a mental health problem. They may be able to add a note to your file to look out for unusual spending.
They’ve also noted some great organisational tips, which we greatly agree with:
- Make sure you’re claiming any extra money or support you’re entitled to - find out more through the government website. If you’re unable to pay your bills, information can be found surrounding this here too.
- Create a budget. The Money Helper website has budgeting advice for people who are self-employed, on a zero hour contract, or claiming Universal Credit.
- Make a list of all the essential things you need to spend money on every month. This could be things like rent or mortgage payments, energy bills, phone bills and food shops. The Mental Health and Money Advice website has a free budget planner which might help!
- Attempt to manage your debts. You could use an online debt tool such as StepChange - or our app Incredible to track how much you’re spending, and automate one easy payment for all of your debt.
- Set up direct debits for your bills and other regular payments so they don’t pile up.
However, this is always far easier said than done. Start by trying a few of these tips at a time - firstly incorporating the most relevant ones for your lifestyle before slowly attempting more. As you begin to see results this should encourage your positive financial and mental health relationship further, allowing you to take back control of your finances. But as we mentioned previously, the most important thing one can do is seek professional help - so we’ve linked some great organisations and the NHS mental wellbeing website below:
- NHS Coping with Financial Worries
- NHS Mental Health
- Mind - the link between Money and Mental Health
- Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
- The Mental Health Foundation
Please be sure to reach out when you need support, and be gentle with yourself when dealing with financial stresses and your mental health - you’re doing the best you can and that’s incredible. We hope to be a source of relief for your financial difficulties, and look forward to working with charities in the future to ensure financial security is achievable for all.
Look after yourself and remember you’re not alone.
The Incredible Team x