Worries about money can have an impact on your mental health, and your mental health can affect how you manage your money.

It’s important to understand how the two affect each other, and learn how to manage your money to support and boost your mood.

How can money affect my mental health?

Learning how mental health and money are connected might help if you're struggling.

Sorting things out might feel like an overwhelming task and lots of things may be out of your control, but try taking things one step at a time.

The tips on this page are to help you get started.

Money & Mental Health Tips

Mental health can affect the way you deal with money

These are some common ways your mental health can affect the way you deal with money:

  • if you're feeling low or depressed, you may lack motivation to manage your finances. It might not feel worth trying

  • spending may give you a brief high, so you might overspend to feel better

  • if your mental health affects your ability to work or study, this might reduce your income

  • you might avoid doing things to stay on top of your money, like opening bills or checking your bank account. You might try to avoid thinking about money completely

  • having a mental health problem might affect your insurance, so you end up paying more

Money problems can affect your mental health

These are some common ways money can affect your mental health such as:

  • certain situations might trigger feelings of anxiety and panic, like opening envelopes or attending a benefits assessment

  • worrying about money can lead to sleep problems

  • you might not be able to afford the things you need to stay well. This might be housing, food, water, heating, or treatments like medication and therapy

  • money problems can affect your social life and relationships. You might feel lonely or isolated, or like you can’t afford to do the things you want to

Feelings associated with money

Thinking about money can be emotional, and you might have different feelings about money. These are some common feelings you might have:

  • you might feel guilty for spending money, even if you know you can afford it. Or, you might feel guilty for seeking support, even if you know you need it

  • you might be afraid of looking at your bank balance or speaking to the bank

  • you might feel ashamed for needing support. It’s important to remember that everyone has the right to feel well, and the right to essentials like food and housing. Getting financial support is a good way of making sure you have the things you need

  • you might feel stressed if you’re under a lot of pressure to support yourself and others

  • you might be struggling to navigate the benefits system may feel stressful

  • you might feel tired or worn down, especially if you’ve been struggling with money problems for a long time

  • if you’ve experienced financial abuse in the past, this might affect how you feel about money now

Getting to know the feelings and emotions you have around money might help you to spot patterns in your behaviour and feel more in control.

Get to know your money and mood patterns

You might find it helpful to take some time to think about how you feel about money and why.

For example, if you've struggled with money in the past or didn’t have much money growing up, this might affect the way you feel about money now. You could try answering these questions:

  • are there certain times when you’re more likely to spend money?

  • are there certain times when you’re more likely to save money?

  • how does it feel when you spend money?

  • do you feel differently when you’re spending and saving?

  • what are the emotions and feelings you think of, when you think about money?

  • which aspects of dealing with money make your mental health worse? For example, it could be things like attending appointments, opening envelopes, confrontation, or being misunderstood.

It might help to keep a diary of your spending and your mood, to record what you spend and why. You could record how you were feeling before and afterwards too. Once you’ve done this, you might start to feel like you understand your habits and patterns around money a bit more. Knowing these could help you plan ahead for difficult times.

Overspending when you're unwell

When you’re unwell, you might spend more money than you want to, or more than you can afford.

Overspending can happen for different reasons, such as:

  • you might spend to make yourself feel better - ome people describe this as feeling like a temporary high

  • if you experience symptoms like mania or hypomania, you might spend more money or make impulsive financial decisions

  • you might have an addiction or dependency which makes you spend money

Here are some tips that might stop you from overspending:
  • tell someone you trust about the warning signs you might be overspending, or signs you’re struggling with your mental health

  • give your cards to someone you trust or put them somewhere difficult to access

  • don't save your card details into websites

  • delete apps where you usually overspend, or apps which encourage you to spend

  • if you get tempted by adverts on social media, limit how much time you spend on it

  • find ways to delay purchasing such as telling yourself, "I will buy this tomorrow if I still feel like it then”

  • distract yourself with something else that makes you feel good

  • consider telling your bank that you have a mental health problem as they may be able to add a note to your file to look out for unusual spending

  • some people find it helpful to avoid credit cards completely

Claiming benefits

We know it’s hard to access benefits. Often the media, or other people’s views, makes it feel like there’s a stigma attached to benefits. Some people have misconceptions about why we need benefits, and what they’re used for.

For many of us with mental health problems, it can feel like the whole benefits system isn’t designed to meet our needs, but it’s important to know that benefits are there to support you. You have a right to claim them if you’re struggling to manage or just need that bit extra help.

Even though the system is hard to navigate, there are lots of places where you can get support and information to help you with your claim and we can help you through Firm Foundations

Dealing with services

We all have to deal with different services, whether that’s a bank, energy provider, or a phone company.

You might decide to tell the service you’re dealing with that you have a mental health problem. This is up to you, and it’s important to think carefully about the decision. If you tell them, it might help them to be more understanding and give you any extra support you need, but you might also be worried about how you will be treated.

It can feel hard to talk about money problems, especially if you've had a bad experience in the past as you might feel as if there's no point trying again. 

If you need support with money, your mental health, or both, you can reach out to our Firm Foundations or Money & Me teams and we can help you work with partner services.