Do Finances Impact Mental Health?
As anyone who has struggled financially can attest, financial strain can be a quick road to anxiety and depression. When finances constantly feel stretched or teetering dangerously on the precipice of disaster, there is plenty of emotional fall out—fall out that can negatively impact your overall health, including mental health. How strong is the connection between financial difficulty and mental health, really? Can poor financial health lead to poor mental health?
Mental Health: A Quick Glance
What exactly is mental health? Although discussions about mental health have grown in recent years, there are still some misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding what exactly the term includes, and who qualifies as having a mental health struggle. Contrary to what you may think, everyone has some measurable degree of mental health (or lack), and everyone has the ability to experience a sudden or rapid decline in mental health. Therapy and other mental health interventions are not reserved for individuals who have diagnosed conditions, or who have chronic mental health issues; mental health professionals can be utilized to help process grief, overcome personal obstacles, and even improve healthy friendships and work relationships. Whether mental health issues are self-identified using a site like Mind Diagnostics, or mental health issues are identified by a meeting with a mental health professional, the scope of “mental health” is vast.
Ultimately, the term “mental health” includes the health or lack of health that is found in your behaviors, thought processes, and the way you regard yourself and the world as a whole.
How Finances Impact Mental Health
While they may not initially seem to be related, your finances can have a very real impact on your mental health. Financial strain can lead to feelings of fear, uncertainty, and low self-worth, all of which are linked to increased likelihood of developing mental disorders, such as mood or anxiety disorders. How exactly do finances factor into the development and consistency of mental health?
It Starts in Childhood
Experiencing insecure finances in childhood can create an unhealthy relationship with money. This relationship may be characterized by feelings of fear, shame, and desperation. In adulthood, such a relationship can lead to chronic overspending, impaired communication regarding finances, and even difficulty in relationships as a result of financial frustration or fear. Childhood financial insecurity often comes as a result of a combination of parents who either do not have enough money to cover expenses, or who live in fear of not having enough, and parents who regularly discuss financial woes and concerns with children.
It Crosses Over Into Adulthood
Adults who struggle financially may be more prone to anxiety, depression, and substance abuse—even anxiety, depression, and substance abuse that does not directly relate to a specific financial fear or situation. Insecure or unstable finances have been identified as a serious risk factor for the development of mental health issues, even in the absence of other risk factors and genetic background. Unfortunately, debt and other financial issues often prevent people from seeking help for their mental health, which can lead to a vicious cycle of increasing symptoms and compounding financial strain.
Combatting the Issue
Now that we have identified the mental health risks associated with precarious finances, let’s take a look at the ways the issue can be evaluated and tackled. Treating financial health with the same degree of import as mental health can be one way to make sure both are taken seriously and given equal weight. Learning more about your own mental health and coping techniques may be complemented well by learning more about financial health, and developing tools to develop and support a stronger financial framework.
Low-cost mental health clinics and sliding scale clinics can be excellent tools to enlist the help of mental health professionals without breaking the bank, as can setting time and effort aside to develop a savings account, no matter how small. A shift in mindset is often necessary to tackle the issue of mental and financial health, and to move forward with both.