How Mental Health and Financial Health affect each other

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The tragic demise of the talented actor Sushant Singh Rajput has brought mental health issues and awareness to the spotlight. It has made us all realise that mental health is as important as physical health. This is because mental illness effects almost all aspects of one’s life, including physical and social health. However, many people still are unaware of the impact of mental health on one’s finances capabilities. Here is how mental health and financial health affect each other.

How does mental health affect financial health?

People diagnosed with mental illnesses, such as depression or bipolar disorder, are more susceptible to be in financial trouble than those who are not. Financial capability is defined as one’s ability to manage their money, irrespective of how much they have. This suggests that financial management is little to do with income, but more to do with one’s mental status. 

Various mental illnesses affect one’s cognitive and psychological abilities, that fundamentally affects their financial management.

  • People suffering from mental health problems have trouble concentrating for long stretches of time. Consequently, they find it difficult to handle tasks such as making a budget or filing paperwork.
  • A lack of motivation, which is a core symptom of depression, makes dealing with finances too much of a task.
  • Mental illnesses reduces understanding and problem solving abilities, that may lead to bad financial decisions.
  • People diagnosed with PTSD face severe memory problems. It difficult for them to keep track of security information (such as PIN numbers, passwords), debt obligations and bill payments.  
  • When people feel distressed, they often turn to ‘retail therapy’ to find a sense of relief. However, this relief is only temporary and is almost always followed by guilt of spending too much on unnecessary items.

How financial health affects mental health?

Financial distress is a major source of stress and anxiety. Debt is a huge burder to face, specially when it is faced alone. Financial stress can cause strains in relationships between spouses, family and friends, which can further create a sense of loneliness. It can also be a source of numerous other problems, such as trouble sleeping, mood swings and rage. People who feel hopeless with their financial position may also have suicidal thoughts. 

Though financial problems can be found across all income levels, people from low incomes are likely to be more affected by them, specially when their paychecks are irregular. The farmer suicide crisis in India is a prime example of this. Farmer suicides accounted for 11.2% of all suicides in India. Many of the reasons for this were financial: high debt burdens, low prices for produce, high cost of cultivation and crop failure. Though there were many schemes and relief packages provided by Central and State governments, it still remains a major concern. 

Why is financial planning important?

When you are stressed, anxious or depressed, financial planning becomes all the more important, since making decisions regarding your financial position is difficult. Making sure that you have financial plans in place can help you mitigate the impact that your mental health can have on your finances. Working with financial counsellors can help you develop a plan that complements your mental health position and supports your needs.

Creative professionals, such as actors or artists, are more prone to mental illnesses as they are constantly under public scrutiny, and have to face harsh criticism. This can further aggravate their financial problems. Additionally, not having a steady flow of income, which is also true for small-scale entrepreneurs or freelancers, can also harm your mental wellness. Proper financial management can ensure you can live comfortably, and focus on your career, rather than getting distracted by pending bills.

Thus, having a financial plan in place can help you enjoy some stability and can help you avoid money-related stress. It can also help set some money aside for rainy days, or when you aren’t doing your best. Financial experts can help you manage your finances to get the most of what you have.

What can you do?

The most important thing to do, more important that your work or studies, is to look after yourself, physically and mentally. 

  • Keep track of how you feel. If feel a change in behaviour, try to find out why. Think of what you can do to help yourself. This can help you gain a sense of control and prevent further financial troubles.
  • Understand your behaviour and your triggers. Think about when and why you spend money. Try to find out which aspects of your financial position affects your mental wellbeing. 
  • If you feel you cannot do this alone, talk to a trusted person, family or friend, and ask them to help you avoid triggers and help you get back on top of your tasks. 
  • If you feel a sense of hopelessness, consider contacting a mental health professional. There may also be support groups and services in your place of work or study, that can help you. 

Although we can find a relationship between financial distress and mental, it is important to acknowledge that mental health is very complex, with many things contributing to one’s well-being. Just remember that you are not alone, help is always available. Your life and mental wellbeing is important. 

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