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?
Sorting things out can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task.
Try taking things one step at a time. These suggestions might help get you started:
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.
Here are some examples of things that other people have found helpful.
If you spend a lot when you are unwell:
- Try giving your cards to someone else or putting them somewhere difficult to access.
- Do something else that makes you feel good. Go for a walk, call a friend or watch something that you enjoy.
- Tell yourself ‘I will buy this tomorrow if I still feel like it then’.
- Make it more difficult to spend money online. Don’t save your card details into websites.
- Talk to friends and family about your triggers and warning signs so they can help you.
- Consider asking your bank to add a note to your credit file.
- Some people find it helpful to avoid credit cards completely.
If you feel anxious about speaking to people or dealing with letters and bills:
- Ask someone you trust to open your letters for you and let you know if any of them are important.
- Consider letting the person you are speaking to know that you have a mental health problem.
- If you feel uncomfortable visiting a branch or talking on the phone, find a bank that has online banking and web chat services.
- Your GP or another health professional may be able to provide a Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form. This can help make sure that creditors take your mental health problems into account.
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.
Here are some people who might be able to help.
- A friend or family member.
- A support worker or health professional.
- Me4Mental may be able to help you work out who to talk to. They may also be able to help you get an advocate (someone who can give you support to express your wishes and make sure your voice is heard).
- Student services. If you are a student, you might find it helpful to talk to your tutor or someone in student services. They may be able to help you apply for additional grants or bursaries.
- Peer support. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to family or friends, you could consider looking for some peer support from other people who have been there.
- Samaritans. Money worries can make you feel trapped and hopeless. If you are finding it difficult to see a way forward you could talk to Samaritans for free on 116 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- 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.
Are these things affecting how you feel? What could you do to change them?
Money worries can make you feel stressed. Stress can cause mental health problems and make existing problems worse.
Not having enough money can have a big impact on your confidence and self-esteem.
Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel. Worries and problems can feel overwhelming at night.
It can be lonely if you don’t have enough money to go out. You might think it’s easier to avoid people but feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Our mental and physical health is closely linked. Taking up sport or exercise can help you feel better in lots of different ways.
Exploring how what you eat affects your mood might help you to feel better.