15th – 21st May 2023 is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year, Leeds Mind is focusing on the cost of living crisis, and the impact it is having on people’s mental wellbeing.
With so much stigma still surrounding talking about both finances and mental health, it can be an aspect of life that people struggle to open up about most. We are urging people to reach out for help.
Here, we outline some general suggestions for easing your worry around money, and where you can get extra support.
Money problems can happen to anyone for lots of different reasons. Examples include:
- Loss of income because of the pandemic or cost of living crisis
- Because of mental health difficulties (problems can include avoidance, therapeutic spending and impulsive spending. In the longer term, it could lead to reduced income)
- Gambling or addiction
- Not knowing how to organise your finances
- Difficulty claiming benefits
- Financial abuse
Money worries can cause lots of difficult feelings, including anxiety, stress, overwhelm, guilt or shame. It can also have a knock-on effect in other areas of our lives, such as an impact on sleep, physical health, social life and relationships.
It can be a vicious cycle; worries about money can impact your mental health, and your mental health can affect how you manage your money.
It’s common to feel overwhelmed or even embarrassed when talking about either money or your mental health. But you’re not alone if you feel your finances impact on your mental wellbeing. Let’s tackle them together.
If you can’t afford bills or food
If you can’t afford the things you need, help is out there. Remember, everyone has the right to essentials like food and housing.
You can take some more immediate steps to help, including accessing foodbanks or community fridges, and getting support with energy bills.
- Find your nearest Trussell Trust foodbank and its opening times
- Find your nearest community fridge
- Get help if you can’t afford your energy bills
Reflect on your habits
A good place to start is to reflect on your habits, feelings and behaviours around money. For example, are there times when you’re more likely to spend or save? How do you feel when you spend money? What about money makes you feel better/worse?
For some, the dopamine hit from buying something can make you feel temporarily better, whereas avoidance like not opening envelopes or missing appointments can make you feel worse.
By keeping a diary of spending and mood, and recording what you spend alongside why, you can start to understand and address your triggers.
Take small steps
When you have a money problem, it can be really difficult to know where to start, and can become overwhelming – that’s why we recommend taking small steps.
Small steps can include learning how to:
- Manage stress
- Deal with bills or letters
- Manage appointments or assessments
- Get organised
- Plan ahead
Mind has lots of practical advice to help you feel more control of your finances, including building a weekly routine, setting and sticking to a budget and managing debts.
Reach out for help
Remember that managing your money with new strategies can feel difficult and stressful. If it does, make sure you take a break, take your time, and talk to someone you trust about how you feel. You are not alone.
Leeds Mind’s Money & Me financial wellbeing service can support you in addressing your financial wellbeing with up to eight support sessions with a navigator. Over the sessions, you’ll explore the link between mental health and finances and set some personal goals to work towards. Your navigator will help by signposting you to tools and local specialist support.
You can find lots of advice about financial wellbeing on Mind’s website.
There is also specialist support out there:
- Citizens Advice Leeds – for free, independent and confidential advice
- Leeds Community Gambling service – a range of free, flexible services to support anyone affected by gambling harm across Leeds and the surrounding area.
- StepChange – free debt advice to deal with debt at your own pace
- Forward Leeds – free and confidential alcohol and drug support for people in Leeds
Leeds Mind can’t fix the cost of living crisis. But we are here to support you and the people you know. If this speaks to you, speak to us. Call 0113 305 5800 or email email@example.com.