May is Mental Health Awareness month. This is a time to raise awareness and promote the importance of mental health. Research has shown a strong link between mental and financial health.
Numerous factors affect a person’s mental health, both biological and environmental. Stress is a common factor. Stress is a natural response to challenging situations, but when it becomes chronic, it can harm mental health. The interaction between mental and financial health is complicated and, if not managed, can set off a negative spiral.
Mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder can make it difficult to perform daily tasks and maintain healthy relationships. They create stress for individuals and their loved ones. They can also lead to financial stress as individuals struggle to maintain employment or manage their finances effectively. One study found that individuals with depression and anxiety were three times more likely to be in debt. A more worrisome finding is a link between debt and an increased rate of suicide.
Researchers have found that unrelenting stress can lead to physical ailments like headaches and stomach problems, along with mental problems like anxiety and trouble sleeping. According to an October 2022 study by the American Psychological Association, in the prior month, 72% of Americans reported feeling stressed about money. Financial stress can arise from sources such as debt, job loss and unexpected expenses and can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
The relationship between mental health and financial stress is complex and can create a vicious negative feedback loop. It is essential to address both mental health and financial stress to improve overall well-being. Addressing mental health can help individuals better manage their finances and reduce financial stress. Addressing financial stress can help individuals better manage their mental health and reduce stress levels.
One way to reduce your stress level is by practicing positive self-care, including taking care of your physical, mental and emotional health. Exercise, meditation, journaling and spending time with loved ones are self-care practices to try. Self-care is an essential component of managing financial stress because it helps you stay focused and resilient.
It can also be beneficial to pursue professional help. Most people can reduce financial stress by seeking financial advice. A holistic financial planner can help you identify areas where you can save money, develop a debt repayment plan, and create a long-term financial plan. A financial planner can also help you create a budget that works for your needs and goals. While professional financial advice costs money, the process could be invaluable in reducing overall lifetime financial stress.
A small segment of individuals will find it more beneficial to engage with a therapist. If you have a specific mental health condition, find a therapist to provide appropriate treatment. If you feel that your financial worries are diminishing your enjoyment of life, it is important to reach out for specialized help. The Financial Therapy Association is a good place to start. Financial therapists can help with any negative feelings and limiting beliefs you have around your finances. According to NerdWallet, “A financial therapist can help improve your thoughts, feelings and behaviors around money. Financial therapy combines behavioral therapy and financial coaching, and a certified financial therapist should meet specific requirements in the areas of financial therapy, planning and counseling.” There is no shame in asking for help, and it is important to remember that you are not alone.
Most individuals will experience financial stress at some point in life. Chronic stress is not healthy, and seeking help to manage stress is beneficial. Practicing self-care will work for some situations; seeking financial advice and coaching is also beneficial. For those with more entrenched financial negative behaviors and beliefs, it might be time for financial therapy. I have found that reaching out for professional help, while difficult, is not a sign of weakness but is rather very courageous.•
Hahn is a certified financial planner and owner of WWA Planning and Investments in Columbus. She can be reached at 812-379-1120 or email@example.com.