Nearly two-thirds of UK adults (63%) say that stress over money has affected the mental health or wellbeing of someone they know according to new research from the Money Advice Service released in support of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Adults in the UK are most likely to have been worried about the mental well-being of a family member (47%), a friend (39%) or a partner (35%). Plus, more than half of all adults (55%) have experienced concerns over their own mental health or wellbeing because of money worries at some point in their lives, with more than one in five (22%) saying that they are currently experiencing mental ill health or poor mental wellbeing as a result of their financial situation.
The stress caused by money worries can affect anyone, but the research suggests that younger people are particularly at risk. For those aged 18-34, nearly three-quarters (72%) have at some point experienced mental health or wellbeing issues linked to money. Women are also much more likely than men (61% vs. 49%) to report the same.
The Money Advice Service has developed a checklist, identifying the signs to look out for if you’re concerned that money worries are affecting your own or someone else’s mental health or wellbeing. According to the research, the most common signs include noticeable changes to mood or temperament (36%) and increased tiredness due to lying awake at night (31%). (See appendix for full list).
The signs also highlight how money problems and mental health and wellbeing can be interlinked. One in five (22%) say someone they know has been anxious about contacting their bank or finance provider, while a similar number (21%) have noticed someone close to them spending more money than they have available, to make them feel better in the short term.
Where concerned friends and family are spotting issues, however, many end up carrying the responsibility to help alone. Whilst most people say that they would recommend debt or money advice in practice, almost one in three (30%) say that they offered their own informal help or advice – the most common response.
Where support was recommended, just over a third (36%) encouraged a loved one to seek help with money management, whilst (25%) encouraged a loved one to go to a GP or other mental health service. This gap indicates that a greater awareness of the link between money and mental health issues could help people to help others. Meanwhile, 14% said they would do nothing because they were unsure on what steps might improve the situation.
Debt(38%) is perceived as the biggest financial issue linked to suffering with mental illness – something of particular concern to people aged 18-34 (46%). Being unable to cope with everyday costs such as bills (29%) is another significant issue.
The importance of having money saved was also clear – managing unexpected bills (26%) is reported as influencing mental health. However, four in 10 UK working age adults currently have less than £100 in a formal savings account.
Existing research has shown the link between money and mental health and wellbeing. A recent report from the Money Advice Service found that 59% of people contacting them for debt advice reported that they had been diagnosed with a mental health condition. This is much higher than the UK average of 17%.
Sarah Porretta, Financial Capability Director at the Money Advice Service, said, “Sometimes money worries can be a symptom of poor mental wellbeing; sometimes poor mental wellbeing can be the result of money worries. Our research shows that more than half of the UK population have experienced poor mental wellbeing as a result of concerns about money. And two thirds of us have been worried about a loved one’s mental wellbeing linked to money worries.”