Challenges of money and mental health

13 January 2023

3 minute read

Barclays Director of Savings and Investments Clare Francis explores the relationship between money and mental health.

The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you could get back less than you invest. If you’re not sure about investing, seek professional independent advice.

Please bear in mind that tax and pensions laws can change and that their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances. We don’t offer personal advice.

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We’re all being impacted by rising living costs at the moment with no signs of things easing any time soon. The pressure this is placing on people varies significantly and it’s not only those in financial difficulty who are finding things harder.

Managing your finances can be difficult and incredibly stressful, regardless of your situation or how much money you have. What may seem simple and straight forward to one person, can be hugely challenging to another. Unsurprisingly, the cost of living crisis is making things worse.

There is a direct link between money and mental health and in addition to my job at Barclays, I’m a trustee on the board of Money & Mental Health, a charity focused on breaking the link between mental health problems and financial difficulties. Money & Mental Health has been tracking how rising inflation is impacting both our day-to-day lives and our mental health, amid fears that the cost of living crisis could become a mental health crisis.

Its most recent research, published in December 20221 found that 54% of people have experienced negative feelings as a result of the rise in the cost of living, with 45% having been anxious, while nearly a quarter (23%) have been depressed and 15% said they have felt unable to cope.

I feel fortunate to be in a position where I can try and help people build financial resilience and improve their financial wellbeing, in the hope that it will also benefit their mental health. And this is something that’s very important to me for personal reasons, because 12 years ago, my husband took his own life, having lived with anxiety and depression for years.

Even though on the face of it he didn’t need to worry about money because we both had good jobs and were comfortably off, he did. He really struggled with financial insecurity and low self-esteem and regularly talked about a fear that he would lose his job and not be able to find a new one, or one that paid as well. This manifested in him being an avid saver and someone who was very careful about how he spent money.

As this highlights, the relationship between money and mental health is a complex one and it’s not only people who are struggling to make ends meet or in debt, who can suffer with mental health problems.

So whatever your situation, if you’re worried about your finances, the first thing to note is you’re not alone. Secondly, no matter how bad things may seem, there are always steps you can take to help you out of your current situation, as well as improve your financial wellbeing and resiliency over the longer term.

What can you do if you’re struggling to pay your bills or are already in behind and in debt?

  • Speak to your bank and utility providers – They all have specialist teams who are on hand to help customers struggling to keep up with payments. You may be able to reduce your repayments or even take a payment holiday to help give you a bit of breathing space and get things back on track. Try and avoid missing payments because that will have a negative impact on your credit score which could affect your ability to get loans or credit in the future.
  • Work out a budget – Your bank will also be able to help you do a budget plan and identify areas where you could make cutbacks and free up some cash. At Barclays you can talk to one of our Money Mentors. Find out more about this service and some of the tools available to you.
  • If you have significant debts and feel you need more help, contact one of the debt charities, such as Step Change, Citizens Advice, or National Debtline.

Remember you’re not on your own

The most important thing to remember if you’re worried about your finances is that you’re not on your own. Not only will there be other people going through something similar, but there’s also lots of help available. As well as the resources already linked to in the article, we also have more information and guidance on the Money Worries hub on our website.

Please remember, stock markets can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invested. Also, tax rules can change and their effects depend on individual circumstances. This article is not intended as financial or investment advice, so if you don’t feel confident about making your own financial decisions, please seek independent financial advice.

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