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Finances and Mental Health

Finances and Mental Health
Happy Autumn to all of our reader’s here at Reader’s Digest. I am Vicky Parry: consumer expert and financial specialist over at MoneyMagpie.com. Each month I will be joining you all to share some of the incredible ways you can navigate your financial life and help empower you to make extra money, save money and even start investing.  
October 10 was world mental health day and this got us all talking, we all need to remember that these things need talking about every day. Things need to change and people need support.
This month I will be focusing on the rather serious issue of mental health and explaining how financial worries and mental health issues are so intrinsically linked.
Do you ever find that opening a bill or bank statement can trigger a huge spike in panic? Are you someone who avoids even opening official looking letters due to the associated panic? According to Money and Mental Health “Almost one in five (18%) people with mental health problems are in problem debt.”
The mental health foundation did a recent study and found out that one in ten (10%) of UK adults feeling hopeless about financial circumstances, more than one-third (34%) feeling anxious and almost three in ten (29%) feeling stressed in the past month.
Image of a lady sat on a sofa with a hand to her mouth reading a bill

Mental Health Problems Caused by Money

According to medic’s, losses and financial difficulties can have a long-lasting effect on mental health, leading to trauma, stress, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Relationships, self-esteem, and decision-making are all impacted by financial trauma. It's therefore absolutely critical to discuss financial difficulties and look for assistance in order to deal with such trauma.
Your first port of call would always be your GP with matters of health. If you however have tried this and still feel helpless we ask you to reach out to the following: 

If you need immediate help:

In an emergency:
·       Call 999 or go to your local A&E department
If you're in crisis and need to speak to someone:
SANEline. If you're experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).
National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK. Offers a supportive listening service to anyone with thoughts of suicide. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652 (6pm to midnight every day).
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). You can call the CALM on 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) if you are struggling and need to talk. Or if you prefer not to speak on the phone, you could try the CALM webchat service.
Shout. If you would prefer not to talk but want some mental health support, you could text SHOUT to 85258. Shout offers a confidential 24/7 text service providing support if you are in crisis and need immediate help.
The Mix. If you're under 25, you can call The Mix on 0808 808 4994 (3pm–midnight every day), request support by email using this form on The Mix website or use their crisis text messenger service.
Papyrus HOPELINEUK. If you're under 35 and struggling with suicidal feelings, or concerned about a young person who might be struggling, you can call Papyrus HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141 (24 hours, 7 days a week), email pat@papyrus-uk.org or text 07786 209 697.
Nightline. If you're a student, you can look on the Nightline website to see if your university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
Switchboard. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 (10am–10pm every day), email chris@switchboard.lgbt or use their webchat service. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+.
C.A.L.L. If you live in Wales, you can call the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L.) on 0800 132 737 (open 24/7) or you can text 'help' followed by a question to 81066.
Helplines Partnership. For more options, visit the Helplines Partnership website for a directory of UK helplines. Mind's Infoline can also help you find services that can support you. If you're outside the UK, the Befrienders Worldwide website has a tool to search by country for emotional support helplines around the world.
Image of someone working out finances with receipts and a calculator

What steps can we take to tackle this?

Remember There is no Shame in Debt.

Debt is something that we, as Brits, often feel uncomfortable talking about. The truth, though, is that if you do speak about it you’re likely to realise that more people than you expect are also negatively affected. And with COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, soaring inflation and the cost of living adding to our stresses, this situation is likely all too familiar to huge numbers of people.
It’s important to realise that there is no shame in debt, that you’re not alone in it, and (mostly importantly) that it’s not a failure on your part. Realising these things is the first step in your journey to stopping debt overwhelming yourself. Read our guide about where to find free, confidential debt advice to seek professional help.
Mental health charities insist that the first thing you should do is always talk. Talk to pals, family, whoever you can and try and make sense of what the issue is. If the issue is however more pressing, take the steps mentioned above.
Also check out charity The Money Charity – in 2022 they reached over 30,000 people in tackling financial education and wellbeing.
Image of a lady smiling with a pad of paper and pot of pens ready to work

Consider contract work

If you’ve been made redundant from a stable job, your first instinct might be to jump right back into a permanent contract with an organisation immediately. With redundancies likely to increase in the coming months this will become a familiar story.
There’s a chance that full-time, permanent roles might be harder to come by in the near future, though. You should be prepared for that to be the case, and to consider taking on shorter projects or contract roles. Contracts such as these can give you a stable income for a few weeks, months or a year, often with the same stability and benefits that you’d find in a full-time role. As the economy suffers, don’t dismiss short-term work. Look for recruiters in your industry that specialise, and make sure you’re on their books and that they’re working on your behalf.

Stop debt overwhelming you by drawing up a budget

Yes, a basic one – but one that’s important, nonetheless. If you’ve been in a well paid job, maybe you haven’t had to budget too much. Maybe those credit card bills were easy to pay back every month, without many constraints being put on your finances.
Of course, if you’ve now been made redundant and are looking at having no income for a period of time, this may no longer be the case. The first step is to look at your regular outgoings, and consider cutting back on things that aren’t completely essential. Prioritise your bills and rent/mortgage, but also any debts that you have. At the very least, knowing exactly the amount that you need to cover your family’s expenses each month will get you on the front foot, avoiding you sliding further into debt and/or finding yourself becoming overwhelmed.
Written by Vicky Parry, head of content at MoneyMagpie
Image of a lady leading on a gate and smiling on a street of houses
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Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.
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