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How Money Can Impact Your Mental Health

Written by: Alex Walker Content Assistant, Asda Money 16 Nov 2020

Money plays an enormous role in our lives. Whether we like it or not, money is what gives us access to our basic requirements – it’s what puts food on the table, what helps us raise families and what gives us access to the wider world. It gives us the security that lets us live our lives to the fullest.

So when we’re faced with money problems, it’s no surprise that these situations can lend fuel to a range of mental health problems, including most prominently, depression and anxiety.

From income losses to debt spirals, money woes are one of the driving factors for many people’s battles with mental illness. In this blog, we reveal the relationship between money and mental health problems, and what can be done to help.

Debt and mental health


So how does money affect your mental health? Very often, the link between poor mental health and money can be placed at the feet of debt, owing money and being unable to keep up your financial commitments.

Many of us may think that debt causes mental health issues, but the truth is, it can just as easily be poor mental health that pulls us into debt and other money troubles.

However, the two are connected in individual cases, the mental health issues that produce debt, or are caused by debt, follow similar patterns. Debt hangs over us, a background worry that only grows as the debt grows or sticks around. It may give rise to feelings like:

  • Hopelessness that things have spiralled too far out of control to be rectified
  • Guilty that you’ve let yourself fall too far into debt
  • Loss of control, like you feel unable to do anything about your life situation
  • Fear of being pursued by debtors or the courts
  • Ashamed of having to seek out support for your money problems.

These issues, if not confronted, can turn into a more recurring mental health problem like anxiety and depression.

The mental health and money cycle


A more exact questions is - how does financial stress affect mental health? Well, if you’re faced with money problems, those problems can often feed off your poor mental health and vice versa. This produces a cycle that it can be hard to escape from. The cycle looks something like this:

  1. Your poor mental health makes it hard to earn or keep hold of your money
  2. Because you find it hard to manage your money, you fall into debt
  3. The debt makes you feel worse, so it becomes even harder to make money
  4. No money means taking out more debt and/or not paying off existing debt
  5. More debt means more mental health problems

This cycle can make even the smallest things seem like the biggest of tasks, and the seemingly impossibility of escaping it can make it seem not worth putting the effort.

Breaking the cycle


The truth is however, taking the first steps to tackle the debt and your mental health issues, no matter how small those first steps are, has the potential to help you feel better and realise there are ways you can change your situation.

Here are some ways you can take your first steps on the path of becoming debt-free:

Contact a debt or money charity – The UK is home to a number of debt charities who specialise in assisting those who feel like they can’t escape their debt. Those charities will help you with free advice, strategies and structured plans to give you a route out of your money problems. They include StepChange, National Debtline and DebtAdvice.

Talk to a mental health professional – As we’ve seen, mental health problems can cause and make money problems much worse. Tackling the poor mental health that sits at the heart of the cycle can give you a boost when taking on debt and other financial responsibilities that might have slipped. You can get money mental health advice, either through your GP, or through a mental health charity like Mind.

Create a debt budget plan – Debt can seem daunting because of how complicated it is, especially if you’re juggling different debts all at the same time. Making a debt budget plan that works for you can help narrow things down and help you focus on the most pressing parts. If you’re not sure how to start your plan, you can find free resources at the Money Advice Service.

If you’re struggling with your mental health and you need someone to talk to, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123. Learn more about their telephone free service here.

For more information on debt, credit and other money issues, you can find useful guides and articles on our blog.