for better mental health

Money and mental health

Practical tips on managing your money and improving your mental health.

Money and mental health are connected

Poor mental health can make earning and managing money harder. And worrying about money can make your mental health worse. It can start to feel like a vicious cycle.

Cycle for mental health and money as managing money can be harder when having poor mental health and worrying about money can cause poor mental health

Sorting things out might feel like an overwhelming task. And lots of things may be out of your control. But try taking things one step at a time.

The tips on this page are to help get you started.

Coronavirus and money worries

Coronavirus is causing financial worries for many people.

A year of living dangerously close to the edge

"I'm broke. Again. My head starts to spiral."

Understand your money and mood patterns 

Working out your habits and thought patterns around money is a good place to start. It could help you start to think about things you want to work on.

  • Think about when you spend or save money and why.
  • Think about what aspects of dealing with money make your mental health worse. Is it attending appointments, opening envelopes, confrontation or being misunderstood? Or is it something else?
  • It could help to keep a diary of your spending, and your mood. Try and record what you spent and why. Record how you were feeling before and afterwards too. This could help you work out any triggers or patterns.

When you understand more about what's happening in your life, you can think about what might help. Sometimes just being aware of these patterns can help you feel more in control.

For example, these are some common ways money and mental health can affect each other:

  • Certain situations might trigger feelings of anxiety and panic. Like talking to your bank, opening envelopes or attending a benefits assessment. Or you might feel very anxious about a decision to spend money, even when you can afford it. 
  • If you're feeling low or depressed, you may lack motivation to manage your finances. It might not feel worthwhile trying.
  • Spending may give you a brief high, so you might overspend to feel better.
  • Going through a period of mania or hypomania may lead to some impulsive financial decisions.
  • If a mental health problem affects your ability to work or study, that might have an affect on your income.
  • Being in debt or dealing with the benefits system can cause ongoing feelings of stress
  • Worrying about money can lead to sleep problems
  • Money problems can affect your social life and relationships. You might feel lonely or isolated.
  • Having a mental health problem might affect your insurance premiums, so you end up paying more. (Our pages on insurance cover explain your rights.)
  • You might not be able to afford essential things we all need to feel well. This might be housing, food, water, heating, or treatments like medication and therapy.

"A big stressor for me is having to deal with major companies who get the bills wrong."

If you can't afford bills or food

You're not alone. Help is out there.

You may be able to claim benefits to help with your living costs. Start by finding out what you can claim, and get advice on making an application.

 

A fairer benefits system?

We at Mind think the benefits system should work better for people with mental health problems.

Campaign with us

Organise your finances

Organising your money is often the first step to feeling in control.

  • Create a realistic budget. The Money Advice Service can help. If you’re self-employed, on a zero hour contract or claiming Universal Credit see their advice on budgeting for an irregular income.
  • Manage your debts. You may find setting up a standing order to pay off your debts each month is helpful. The charity StepChange has a free debt remedy tool. It can help you make a personalised plan to manage any debts.
  • Consider setting up direct debits for your bills and other regular payments so they don’t pile up.
  • Limit yourself by paying for weekly shopping with cash instead of cards. You could take out only the amount of money you are able to spend.
  • Put all important documents in one place, so that you can find them easily. This could be letters, bank statements, payslips, bills and receipts.
  • Look into bank accounts that allow you to put money aside for essentials in separate sub-accounts. This can help prevent you spending money you need for rent or bills.
  • Check your bank balance at a regular set time to understand where you spend money. Money Saving Expert has information on banking and money saving apps.

"When I sat down with my advocate to open bills, it took a lot of the worry away."

A breakdown, benefits, debt and brown envelopes

"The more I worried about money, the more unwell I got."

Avoid overspending when unwell

Here are some tips that other people have found helpful.

  • Confide in someone you trust about your triggers and warning signs, so they can help you.
  • Try giving your cards to someone else or putting them somewhere difficult to access.
  • Make it more difficult to spend money online. Don't save your card details into websites. Search for free online tools to help you to limit online spending. 
  • Find ways to delay purchasing. You could tell yourself, "I will buy this tomorrow if I still feel like it then". You could take photographs of the things you want, or write them down in a wish list (on paper or on your phone). This might feel reassuring.
  • Distract yourself with something else that makes you feel good. Go for a walk, call a friend or watch something that you enjoy.
  • Consider telling your bank that you have a mental health problem so they can take this into account. They may be able to add a note to your file to look out for unusual spending. Money Saving Expert's free Mental Health and Debt booklet has more information about this.
  • Some people find it helpful to avoid credit cards completely.

Gambling and addiction

While gambling isn’t always a problem, it can become an addiction. This may leave you in serious debt. Addiction and mental health are linked and can trigger each other.

Some banks now offer ‘gambling blocks’ that let you turn off gambling transactions on your bank cards. Speak to your bank to find out what they offer. GAMSTOP also offers a free gambling restriction service.

Our page on support for addiction and dependency lists organisations who can help.

Spending money to make me feel better got me into debt - Step Change helped me out

"Spending money became therapy..."

Manage anxiety around bills and assessments

Here are some tips that other people have found helpful.

  • Ask someone else to open your letters and bills for you. It should be someone you trust. They can let you know which of them are important.
  • If you feel uncomfortable going into your bank or talking on the phone, find a bank that has online banking and web chat services.
  • Your GP or another health professional may be able to give you a Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF). This can help make sure that creditors take your mental health problems into account. 
  • You could consider letting your bank know that you have a mental health problem. If you disclose a disability, they may have to to adapt their procedures. Find out more from our pages on disability discrimination, and from Money Saving Expert's Mental Health and Debt booklet. Remember that you have rights around your personal information under the Data Protection Act.

Tips for appointments and phone calls

  • Make notes beforehand on everything you want to ask about.
  • Collect all your paperwork together. It's useful to have any bills, letters and bank statements with you. If you're not sure what would be helpful to have to hand, you could call ahead and ask.
  • If travelling, plan your journey beforehand. Leave extra time so you don't worry about getting lost.
  • Think about asking a friend, family member or advocate to go with you for support, or to be available for a chat afterwards.
  • Make sure you understand what you're being told, and what you need to do next. If anything is unclear, ask them to clarify.
  • Afterwards, keep a note of everything that you talked about. You can also ask the person you spoke to to send you a summary.

Money and bipolar disorder

"I didn't answer the phone and I wouldn't open the post, and debt after debt stacked up."

Share your worries

Sharing your worries with someone you trust can be a relief. But it isn't always easy. Here are some people who might be able to help.

  • A trusted friend or family member. Try and choose a quiet moment when the other person isn't distracted. It can sometimes help to make notes first or even write everything in a letter.
  • A support worker or health professional.
  • Your local Mind. They may also be able to help you get an advocate (someone who can give you support to express your wishes and make sure your voice is heard).
  • Student services. If you are a student, you might find it helpful to talk to your tutor or someone in student services. They may be able to help you apply for extra grants or bursaries.
  • Peer support. Peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other. See our pages on peer support for more information.
  • Samaritans. Money worries can make you feel trapped and hopeless. If you're finding it difficult to see a way forward you can talk to Samaritans for free on 116 123. Our page on suicidal feelings might help too.

If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, it's a mental health emergency.

Get emergency advice

Money worries connected with relationships

Money can put a strain on relationships for lots of different reasons.

Financial abuse

If your partner stops you having access to money as a way of controlling you, this could be financial abuse.

The Money Advice Service has more information on financial abuse, including where you can go for help.

"Being able to tell someone I trust helps. If things are bad, my Ma holds onto my cards."

Look after your wellbeing

Your body and mind are connected in many ways. Improving any area of your life can help you cope with challenges in others. You might find it useful to explore our pages on:

Finding mental health support

Mind offers lots of different ways to help you take control of your mental health.

Mind's services

  • Helplines – our Infolines provide information and support by phone, email and text.
  • Local Minds – provide face-to-face services across England and Wales. These might be talking therapies, peer support and advocacy.
  • Side by Side – our supportive online community for anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

 

Our pages on how to seek help for a mental health problem have tips on taking the first steps, including talking to your GP about how you're feeling.

Managing money and being kind to yourself

"I must have made hundreds of budgets in my life."

Find professional money advice and support

It can feel very hard to talk about money problems. And if you've had a bad experience somewhere in the past, you might feel as if there's no point in trying again. But there are lots of place you could turn to. Here are some organisations who can help with money issues.

Citizens Advice

03444 111 444 (Adviceline)
03444 111 445 (Text relay)
citizensadvice.org.uk
Free, confidential information and advice on your rights, including with money, housing, legal and other problems.

Christians Against Poverty

capuk.org
Christian charity providing support with debt and unemployment. Searchable list of local services.

Gamblers Anonymous

gamblersanonymous.org.uk
Support groups for anyone wanting to stop gambling.

Gamcare

0808 8020 133
gamcare.org.uk
Information and support for people wanting to stop gambling, including a helpline and online forum.

Mental Health and Money Advice

mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org
Online advice service for people experiencing issues with mental health and money. Run by by Mental Health UK and Lloyds banking. Information is available in English and Welsh.

Money Advice Service

0800 138 7777
moneyadviceservice.org.uk
Provides free and impartial money advice.

Money for Life

moneyforlife.org.uk
Supports young people to develop the knowledge and skills to manage their money.

Money Saving Expert

moneysavingexpert.com
Tips and articles about money, debt, banking and saving.

National Debtline

nationaldebtline.org
Information and advice about debt, including a helpline, online webchat and sample letters for writing to creditors.

National Problem Gambling Clinic

cnwl.nhs.uk/cnwl-national-problem-gambling-clinic
Treats problem gamblers living in England and Wales aged 16 and over.

Samaritans

116 123 (freephone)
[email protected]
Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK
PO Box 90 90
Stirling FK8 2SA
samaritans.org

Samaritans are open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. You can visit some Samaritans branches in person. Samaritans also have a Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7pm–11pm every day).

Shelter England

0808 800 4444
england.shelter.org.uk
Provides free, confidential advice on housing and homelessness in England.

Shelter Cymru

0345 075 5005
sheltercymru.org.uk
Provides free, confidential advice on housing and homelessness in Wales.

StepChange

stepchange.org
Provides free advice about money problems, debt and budgeting.

Stop Loan Sharks

stoploansharks.co.uk
Provides advice and information if you are worried about loan sharks. You can also report a suspected loan shark.

The Trussell Trust

trusselltrust.org
Emergency food and support for people in need. Includes a searchable list of local foodbanks.

Turn2Us

turn2us.org.uk
Helps people in financial difficulty to access benefits, grants and support services.

This information was published in July 2020. We will revise it in 2023.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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