As the cost of living increases, we’re looking at how you can mind both your money and your mental health
Recently, it’s felt like we’re stuck in a stream of mounting pressure, as we’ve faced one thing after another. And with the cost of living on the rise, many of us will be worried about the immediate future.
The Resolution Foundation Think Tank estimates that an extra 1.3 million people will fall into absolute poverty in 2023, including 500,000 children – and middle-earners will likely also feel the strain as bills and monthly outgoings rise.
It goes without saying that this is going to have an impact on our mental health, as financial wellbeing and mental health are connected. In a survey of more than 1,000 people by the mental health charity Mind, 73% reported that when their mental health is poor, they struggle more to manage their money, and 74% also said that difficulty managing money then went on to affect their mental health.
“If you live with mental illness you may be on a reduced income, face increased costs, or find it hard to budget, while money worries can also place pressure on your mental health, leading to increased stress, worry, and anxiety,” Laura Peters, head of mental health and money advice at the charity Mental Health UK, explains. “This can create a worrying cycle that can impact other aspects of your life, such as your relationships, work, or where you live. Improving your financial security and understanding the best way to manage your money can have a hugely positive impact on your mental health.”
Money where your mouth is
But, truth be told, even just talking about money can be difficult, let alone taking steps to manage it. Of course, speaking about it is the first step to getting help – both practical tips and emotional support – but our fears and anxieties are often an additional barrier.
“There are lots of reasons why people find it hard to talk about money worries,” Laura says. “Parents or carers might feel pressure to support loved ones who rely on them. Some of us might feel like we want to keep up with friends, even though we can’t afford to match their spending habits. And many people in debt tell us they feel a huge amount of shame and stigma around their situation.”
In research by the Money & Pensions service in 2020, which surveyed more than 5,200 people across the UK, researchers found that nearly half the adult population (48%) say they have worried about money once a week or more in the past month. It would be fair to say that that number may have risen in 2022, but the survey also looked into the most common reasons why UK adults avoid talking about their money situation, finding ‘Shame/embarrassment’, ‘Not wanting to burden others’, ‘It’s not how they were brought up’, ‘It causes stress or anxiety’, and ‘Thinking they should be more successful than they are’ were among the top causes.
“Money worries can make people feel really isolated, but a lot of people will experience money worries at some point in their lives,” Laura says. “You are not alone, and it’s