Mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. The month of May highlights Mental Health Awareness. Mental Health Awareness is the ongoing effort to reduce the stigma around mental illness and mental health conditions by the sharing of personal experiences. Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness.
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Mental health and finances
Mental health and finances go hand in hand; in fact, 18% of people with mental health problems also have debt problems. Furthermore, people experiencing mental health problems are three and a half times more likely to be in problem debt, than people without mental health problems.* A decline in mental health makes it harder to manage money. You may find it harder to concentrate or lack the energy to address a huge pile of bills. You may also lose income by taking time off work due to anxiety or depression. These difficulties in managing money lead to more financial problems. You wind up becoming trapped in a vicious cycle of increasing money problems and exacerbated poor mental health.
If you’re feeling low or depressed, you may lack motivation and desire to manage your finances, to the point, it might not feel worth it to try at all. This will cause you to let finances fall by the wayside. It’s common for many people with mental health problems to end up in problematic debt this way. Rather than face their financial problems, it’s easier for people with mental health issues to just avoid their financial problems.
Read More: How Debt Can Affect Your Mental Health
How mental health problems affect your income
Feeling depressed can cause low self-worth, which can make it difficult to pursue opportunities that would increase your income. You may not feel confident enough to interview for a promotion or change careers. Your mental health problems might become so severe that you’re unable to work at all anymore. This will not only affect your income, but it will also affect your ability to access health insurance. Without insurance, someone with mental health problems will find it harder to secure the medication or therapy sessions they need to help them cope with their problems.
Dealing with your mental health
There are many counter-productive coping mechanisms people with mental health issues use to help them feel better. Overspending is an example of something people will do to help them feel better. They might think that going shopping is a mental health day that will make them feel better. This short-term emotional fix will hurt their overall finances in the long run. Many times people are using credit cards to pay for their overspending. By charging what they know they can’t afford to pay off at the end of the month they’re putting themselves into a cycle of debt.
Feelings associated with money
Many emotions can be evoked when it comes to money. Many people report negative emotions regarding money. For example; 54% of people feel anxiety, 52% of people feel financial insecurity, and 48% of people fear money itself. Thinking about money can be emotional. You might feel guilty for spending money; even if you know you can afford it. Getting to know and understand your feelings and emotions around money may help you spot destructive patterns in your behavior and help you feel more in control.
With negative emotions surrounding money matters, it can be hard for someone with mental health problems to face their emotions. Therefore, they avoid thinking about their money issues so they don’t have to add to the negative feelings they are already experiencing.
These negative emotions can cause a lack of confidence about advancing their financial goals. They could lack the discipline required to make a savings or investing plan and to follow through with the implementation of those plans. Inevitably, this leads to the lack of funds to support their financial future and to achieve their financial goals.
How debt affects your mental health
Having mental health issues can take a toll on your finances, but the inverse is also true, poor finances can affect your mental health. Financial problems can cause a person to suffer from financial anxiety. Financial anxiety is a psychosocial syndrome whereby individuals have an uneasy and unhealthy attitude toward engaging with and administering their personal finances in an effective way. Financial anxiety affects 65% of Americans’ overall confidence and about 56% of Americans cite finances as their single largest source of relationship problems. As relationship problems increase, this, in turn, causes a potential mental health decline.
Read More: How To Cope With Financial Anxiety
Steps to keep your finances in check
There are ways for people with mental health issues to avoid having financial problems or fix their financial problems if they’re already experiencing them. Start small with getting your finances together so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Keep track of all your finances. This includes all necessary spending you have to do each month. Write everything down so you know what needs to be paid. You also want to include the dates things need to be paid by. You can write everything down by hand, use a spreadsheet, or download an app that will help you track all of your monthly expenses. Once you’ve figured out all of your expenses, you can start to create a budget. Then, you can work your way up to including savings and investing in your new budget. You can learn how to create a detailed budget here. All of those steps may feel overwhelming, however, just take it step by step. You’ll begin to feel a sense of control over your financial life knowing where your money goes and being able to make bill payments on time and in full.
Mental health problems can be difficult to handle on your own. It’s important to create a trusted support system around you to help you get through. A support system will allow you to face your mental health issues in a more positive way.
They can also help hold you accountable for your finances. You’re more likely to stick with your budget if you’re support system is there to encourage you. If possible, professional therapy can also be a big help if your mental health issues are affecting your finances or day-to-day life. Talking to a professional can help you see the bigger picture and can help encourage you to make the necessary positive changes in your life.
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If you have mental health problems and you’re working toward bettering your financial life, be patient. It’s important to know there may be stumbling blocks along the way, and that’s okay. Don’t let setbacks discourage you from achieving your new financial goals.
If you’ve realized your debt is too much to handle, reach out to a certified credit counselor. Although it may be hard for someone with mental health issues to bring themselves to the help of a credit counselor, this can be the help they need to start their new financial journey. Calling a non-profit credit counseling company and talking to a certified credit counselor can alleviate a lot of financial stress. The certified credit counselors at Navicore Solutions can help put you back on the road to financial success while you deal with mental health issues. You can reach us at 800-992-4557 for help.