How money negatively affects mental health

October 10 is World Mental Health Day and the theme for World Mental Health Day 2022 is “Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority”.

Finances are a huge stressor for many, and if you want to make mental health a priority, alleviating some of the anxiety around money management is a good start.

42% of US adults say money negatively affects their mental health, according to a recent Bankrate and Psych Central survey.

The study is polled 2,457 adults on how finances affect their mental state. Feeling stressed is the most important response to finances, according to 70% of respondents.

Other emotions people associate with money include worry, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, and insecurity.

These are the money-related activities that caused negative feelings, from most to most common:

  • Viewing their bank accounts (49%)
  • Bill payment (41%)
  • Making a purchase (34%)
  • You need to discuss money (32%)
  • Receive payment (21%)
  • Viewing their investment accounts (16%)
  • Browsing social media (11%)

These groups are most affected by money-related stress

Of all age groups, millennials aged 26 to 41 experience the most financial anxiety at 48%.

“That’s when we have children for the first time, we start for the first time or we’re insecure about our work because we haven’t been doing it long enough. We haven’t built up any savings,” says TJ Williams, regional president and financial advisor at Wealth Enhancement Group, an independent wealth management firm.

“These are normal experiences that we’ve had for generations, but society perceives it differently. Social media puts a lot of pressure on that is unnecessary.”

Gen X, ages 42 to 57, aren’t far behind at 46 percent, and 40 percent of Gen Z 18- to 25-year-olds say money problems cause mental health problems for them, too.

Women, more than men, indicated that money significantly affects their mental state, “with 46 percent choosing it compared to 38 percent of men.”

When income is taken into account, people with low incomes experience more emotional stress due to finances than those with higher incomes.

Only 30% of people who make at least $100,000 a year say money negatively affects their mental health, compared to 48% of people who make less than $50,000 a year.

3 ways to feel financially secure, maintain positive mental health

To feel more secure about your finances, Williams suggests following these three steps:

  1. Build a Cash Reserve: Save enough money to take advantage of any curveballs life throws at you
  2. Have a stated or written debt repayment plan and make it achievable
  3. Check your MUG monthly (or weekly), which means factoring in how much money you’ll need for mortgage (or rent), utilities and groceries. For some, you may need to factor in gas costs and insurance.

Following this step-by-step process can reduce how often you have to review your bank account during the week, notes Williams. He recommends only checking your finances once a week to watch for fraudulent activity.

You can also consider finding an accountability partner with whom you can share your financial goals, he adds. This person should be non-judgmental and supportive, Williams emphasizes.

Also, keep in mind that everything you see on social media isn’t always what it seems, Williams says.

Comparing your financial situation to others because they post pictures of themselves traveling or buying a new car will only make you feel worse, he says.

“Their financial situation could have been different from the beginning,” Williams says. “You [also] I don’t know if they are actually living beyond their means. There’s a lot of it, just for show.”

Above all else, “give yourself grace,” says Williams. Financial challenges are normal, especially when you’re just starting to manage your own money, he notes.

“When we talk about planning and budgeting, you can’t account for everything. Life happens,” he says. “There are things that are out of our control and we have to accept that.

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