57% with recent mental health problems ‘feel anxious about money’

More than half of people who have experienced a mental health problem in the past three years feel anxious when thinking about their finances, a survey has found.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) commissioned the research to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, May 9-15.

Its financial wellbeing survey of more than 10,000 people across the UK indicates those who have experienced a mental health problem in the past three years are particularly likely to be at risk of falling into serious money problems.

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They are more than twice as likely to say thinking about their financial situation makes them anxious, at 57%, versus 26% who have not experienced a mental health problem in the past three years.

They are four times as likely to be behind on priority bills (44% versus 11%) and four times as likely to be borrowing to pay off debts (24% versus 6%).

They are nearly three times as likely to often borrow to buy food or pay bills because they have run out of money (32% versus 11%).

Caroline Siarkiewicz, chief executive at MaPS, which provides the free MoneyHelper service, said: “We know that money worries and poor mental wellbeing often go hand in hand.

“This is a challenging time for many people dealing with the after-effects of the pandemic and cost-of-living pressures.

“This is tricky enough for anyone, but can be particularly challenging for people also dealing with a mental health problem.

“Despite this, we know that many people across the UK generally struggle to talk openly about money.

“This, added with the possibility many could be dealing with feelings of anxiety about money, is concerning because people could be living with the burden of money worries on their own.

“This can often make things even worse and can feel incredibly lonely. If you are struggling, know that you are not alone, and that help is available.

“We know it can be hard, but if you have money worries it’s best to get help as soon as possible to avoid problems spiralling out of control.

“Whatever stage you are at – whether you are struggling to keep up with bills, have already fallen behind on payments or need support managing money while dealing with a mental health problem – our MoneyHelper service can offer free, confidential guidance to those who need it.”

In one case, a 51-year-old man who received debt advice through a service funded by MaPS said: “My finances spiralled out of control after struggling with my mental health over a number of years.

“When I hit my lowest point, I had accrued around £28,000 of debt to a number of creditors and was struggling to keep a roof over my family’s head.

“I received crisis treatment from my local NHS trust, and when I was ready, I was then able to access debt advice. It immediately felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

“I was able to focus on my recovery – my health started to improve, and I have been able to continue to get better while my family is financially supported.”