Money on the mind

Every year, mental health week offers us the chance to check in with ourselves and others, and take a moment to ask how we’re really doing. This week, we’re turning our attention to the often overlooked link between money worries and anxiety. 

It’s no revelation that our mental health can be affected by a wide range of factors,  but financial concerns rarely seem to top the list when it comes to discussing our mental wellbeing. However, money is a leading cause of anxiety across the nation. In fact, 21% of UK adults say they feel constantly overwhelmed by money worries; that’s 1 in every 5 people. Further to this, almost 15% of the population have suffered from mental health issues as a direct result of financial anxiety. 

The 2019 Money and Mental Health Policy Institutions’ research reveals the catch 22 of the relationship between money and anxiety. Their surveys show that 86% of people with anxiety reported that their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse, while almost 60% of those with financial concerns had also experienced mental health issues. On this trend, Mind’s Head of Information observes: “If you are struggling to keep control of your money, you may find that your mental health is affected. Equally, if you are experiencing a period of mental ill health you may find that you get into financial difficulties”. 

With the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the globe there couldn’t be a more apt time to take a closer look at this trend. Recent surveys report that more than 25 million people, a whopping 49.6% of the adult population, rated their anxiety as ‘high’; more than double the amount who did so at the end of 2019. The 8.6 million people who have seen their income fall, including those placed on furlough through the government’s job retention scheme, reported anxiety levels significantly higher than average. In fact, surveys show that on the whole employees are more worried about personal finances and job retention than their own physical health.

As the peak of the virus is largely considered to be behind us, focus is naturally shifting to the long-lasting economic effects of the lockdown. This is a particular concern for younger generations who are less well-positioned to weather a financial storm. HR News’ 2020 report shows a quarter of 16-34 year olds had serious concerns about money and are admittedly already in debt, while almost half (45%) had less than one months’ salary in savings. 

But, it’s not all bad news. The pandemic is shining a light on the effect of money  worries on our mental health, and we believe this could kick start a long term shift to our collective attitude towards the importance of financial wellbeing. With the issue of money skyrocketing to the top of our wellbeing checklist, employers will be urged to embrace financial wellness as a non-negotiable to company wellbeing initiatives. BusinessWire reports that even before the coronavirus took hold of the global economy, the number of employers offering financial wellness programs in the workplace was predicted to nearly double over the next few years. 

With financial insecurity on the rise we’re set to see a rapid increase in this trend; a hopeful image for the future of employee wellbeing and mental health. For employers, developing a financial wellbeing plan for their workforce is an opportunity to make employees happier and more productive, and will be invaluable as we move forward during these unprecedented times. Along with being critical, it’s an exciting space to be in with technologies like Mintago driving the movement to provide employers with the tools to help employees feel happy about money.