Money worries 'causing 15% of Scots psychological problems'

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One in six people (15%) in Scotland has suffered psychological problems as a result of money concerns, new research has found.

Financial worries also impact on the sleep of almost half (49%) of Scots, with one in 10 (10%) suffering disruption every night, according to a study released by Scottish Widows.

Nearly half of people in Scotland (44%) say financial worries regularly impact on their personal relationships.

The study also found 27% get stressed just thinking about their financial situation in retirement, yet according to latest figures only 56% of the UK population is saving enough for a comfortable retirement.

Scottish Widows published the findings as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

David Holton, retirement expert at Scottish Widows, said: "The link between every day money worries and mental health is well known. What is less well known is the extent to which longer term retirement savings, and engagement with their associated issues, contribute to the nation's mental health.

"What's clear is that when people are forced to consider the reality of retirement they do recognise the need to be more prepared and are willing to put more money aside. This study shows that more needs to be done to help the UK face up to the reality of retirement and to save more money as early as they possibly can."

To further investigate the findings, Scottish Widows commissioned a clinical study that found those people who are not saving enough for retirement feel it is too abstract or distant in the future to take action.

The study involved observation of 54 men and women aged between 35 and 45 from across the UK as they watched films illustrating two opposing retirement situations, one a happy retirement and the other an impoverished one.

Participants were wired up to oximeters that measured their pulse rates, and the scientists monitored signs of relaxation and stress, including facial movements and body language.

An "overwhelming majority" of participants demonstrated clear signs of stress, including body twitching, uncomfortable fidgeting, crying and increased pulse rates.

More than three-quarters (78%) said the videos had made them worried about how much they are saving towards retirement.

After watching just 3.5 minutes of footage, 90% of participants said they would review how much they are saving for retirement.

Jo Hemmings, the experiment's scientific lead, said: "This kind of situation suggests that prior to the experiment the vast majority of participants had given little or no consideration to the financial reality of their retirement.

"Yet the stress they demonstrated showed that they did identify with aspects of the film they watched, and this created fear that it would become their reality unless they took action to do something about it."

The survey of 5,314 UK adults, including 446 in Scotland, was carried out in April.