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Money and your mental health

Studies throughout the world show that money problems and mental health are linked, and in many countries, young adults are found to be most likely to experience mental health or wellbeing issues linked to money.

Money worries can affect a person’s mental health, and a person’s mental health can affect their finances, resulting in a cycle that can be very difficult to get out of.

Money worries can affect your wellbeing at any time in your life, whether or not you have started to work and are earning an income. If any of the following behaviors seem familiar to you then it may indicate that money is affecting your health and wellbeing:

  • You spend money to make yourself feel better – you rarely turn down a night out with friends, even if it leaves you short of money later in the month.
  • You feel worried whenever you spend any money at all, even if it’s on essential, everyday items.
  • You find getting to sleep hard because you are worrying about money.
  • You avoid opening emails from your bank because you are worried about what they might say.

If any of these behaviors affect you then the longer you leave them, the more they can affect your mental health. If you can, talk to your doctor or medical professional. They may be able to recommend counselling or other support. 

Spotting addictive behavior

When your mental health and wellbeing is affected by money problems and worries, it can lead to a range of addictive behaviors, some of which aren’t easy to spot yourself.

They can include:

Gambling - If you keep gambling, even when losses begin to take a toll on relationships, finances or your career, then you have an addiction. It may leave you in serious debt, as well as affect your physical and mental health. You may consider seeking professional help to tackle your addiction.

In app purchases – Addictive behaviors take many forms. Online and mobile gaming can seem like harmless fun, but young people in particular are at risk of addiction through in-app purchases and video game add-ons on their phone or other mobile devices.

Using credit to purchase investment products - Borrowing money, or using credit, for an investment might seem like a good idea, especially when interest rates are low, however, it is high risk, because there’s a chance of losing your investment, but you will still have to pay for the credit you have borrowed.

Discussing your money worries

Talking about your money worries isn’t easy, but it may really help. If you don’t feel able to talk with your spouse or partner about financial difficulties, or how they are affecting your health, try talking to:

  • Your doctor or a medical professional
  • A trusted friend or family member
  • A support worker or other health professional
  • A tutor, or a counsellor in student services (if you are a student)

If a particular money issue is affecting you, like a loan or payment that you can’t pay, then talking about it with your bank or financial provider can be a good place to start. They may be able to help, for example by consolidating your debts, or extending the period of a loan.