Are Financial and Mental Health Linked?

Your financial status can have a huge impact on your mental health — and vice versa. Not having enough money or struggling to cope with debt could lead to stress, anxiety and, ultimately, worsened mental health.

Over time, this behaviour can create further financial worries which, if left unaddressed, could lead to further mental health concerns. Stocks and shares ISA provider True Potential Investor has provided further insight into this in their Tackling The Savings Gap Consumer Savings and Debt Data Q3 2017 report.

The report found that 33% of UK households worry about money daily. There is a clear gender split within these figures, with 38.7% of women worrying about their finances every day, compared to just over a quarter (25.8%) of men.

In terms of employment types, full-time workers with an additional sideline to generate cash worry about money most frequently. 45% of this group worry daily, even though on paper, we would assume that a double revenue stream would make this group more financially comfortable than some others.

Many people assume that full-time employment will result in financial security. Recently, the media has been awash with reports of professionals falling victim to financial struggles — despite their traditionally well-regarded careers.

Nurses & Hospital Staff

In March 2017, a press release from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) detailed that the organisation had awarded RCN Foundation hardship grands to over 700 nurses and healthcare staff in 2016. Each was worth an average of £500. The grants are given out to help full-time nursing staff cope with the costs of food, travel, rent and mortgage payments. In total, over a quarter of a million pounds was given out — even though just £56,000 was awarded a decade ago.

According to an RCN survey from November 2017, more than 40% of nurses suffer sleep loss because of money worries. 70% said they were more financially worse off now than they were five years ago, while almost a quarter had taken up another job to top-up their income.

Teachers & Education Staff

It’s a similar situation for teachers. A study by Leeds Beckett University reported on by The Independent has found that over the past year, the number of teachers applying for help from the UK’s main education support charity to pay for housing and transport increased by 40%.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducted a survey which found that over the past decade, teachers’ salaries have decreased by over a tenth. As financial struggles and money worries rise for many, could this be impacting the mental health of teachers? 54% of teachers reported poor mental health, while 81% said poor mental health negatively impacted the pupil-teacher relationship.

The scale of the problem

The problems teachers and healthcare professionals face are well documented, yet further research suggests that the UK’s wider workforce also faces this issue.

Neyber’s The DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2017 report found that financial worries are the biggest concern for a third of UK employees. 35% said they were unhappy with their existing financial situation, while just under a quarter have lost sleep over their money worries.

25% of employees’ money worries have affected their job performance, as found in a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. 30% of these employees were found to work in the public sector.

With financial worries widespread, we must turn our attention to improving financial support, awareness and education — such as through upping salaries or educating for greater money management. With money worries clearly having an impact on our mental health, addressing the issue could lead to benefits across the UK’s workforce.

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