More than half of people with mental health problems feel anxious when thinking about money

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The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) encourages people to seek free guidance from MoneyHelper for money worries this Mental Health Awareness Week.

  • 57% of those who have experienced a recent mental health problem say thinking about their financial situation makes them anxious.
  • Even 26% of people who have not experienced a recent mental health problem report the same concern, yet one in five do not seek help.

More than half (57%) of people who have experienced a mental health problem in the past three years say thinking about their financial situation makes them anxious, according to new research from MaPS to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week (9th–15th May).  

The research from MaPS’ Financial Wellbeing Survey (1) of more than 10,000 UK adults, also shows that those who have experienced a mental health problem in the last three years are more likely to be at risk of falling into serious money problems than those who haven’t:

  • They are more than twice as likely to say thinking about their financial situation makes them anxious (57% versus 26%).
  • They are four times as likely to be behind on priority bills (44% versus 11%) (2).
  • They are four times as likely to be borrowing to pay off their debts (24% versus 6%).
  • They are almost three times as likely to often borrow to buy food or pay bills because they’ve run out of money (32% versus 11%).

MoneyHelper is encouraging people to seek help if they are worried about money – whether it’s for themselves or someone close to them. MoneyHelper offers support for a range of money matters, including tools such as the Bill PrioritiserOpens in a new windowor guidance on how to maximise your income, understand what benefits you might be entitled to, managing your money and mental health and how to get free expert debt advice.

Even if they do not report having a mental health problem, more than a quarter (26%) say that thinking about money matters makes them feel anxious. Yet one in five (21%) people in this group have not sought any support. 

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Chief Executive Officer at the Money and Pensions Service, which provides the MoneyHelper service, says: 

“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 MoneyHelperOpens in a new window service can offer free, confidential guidance to those who need it.”

Jeremy, 51 years old, from South West England who has received debt advice through Rethink Mental IllnessOpens in a new window which is 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.”

How to manage money and mental wellbeing

Money worries can affect your mental health and poor mental health can affect how you manage your money. If this is you, or someone you know here are some tips to help you find a way forward:  

  1. Build a budget. Budgeting will allow you to track all the money you have coming in and all the things you spend it on. The Budget Planner tool on the MoneyHelper website only takes ten minutes to fill out and it analyses your results to help you take back control of your household spending. 
  2. Check if you could be entitled to benefits. If you have a mental health condition, you might be entitled to help with benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment if you need help with everyday tasks. If you can’t work for an extended period you may be able to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to help replace lost income.  
  3. Contact your creditors. Organisations you owe money to, such as your bank, mortgage lender, credit card provider or energy supplier can help you in lots of ways. They might have a specialist team who can help customers in your position. For example, a credit card provider might agree to temporarily freeze your card when you feel like your spending is getting out of control. 
  4. Remove temptations. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or experiencing mania you may spend more than you can control or feel comfortable about. Delete shopping apps you often use on your phone. Keep your wallet or purse out of easy reach. Make use of free online tools (such as BlockSiteOpens in a new window) that let you temporarily block shopping sites for as long as you want.  
  5. A problem shared. One of the best places to start if you have money worries is to talk to someone you trust. It can feel daunting, but opening up to someone – whether it’s a friend, family member or expert – about how you’re feeling can bring some relief and they can provide emotional support. 
  6. Seek free debt advice. If you are worried about debt, you can speak to a specialist today to help you start sorting out your financial problems. A debt adviser will talk you through your money worries and find ways to manage your debts. They can suggest solutions even if you don’t think you have any spare money to deal with your debts. Your debt advisor can also help you understand if you could be eligible for Breathing Space (also called The Debt Respite Scheme) which gives someone in problem debt the right to legal protection from their creditors. You can find free confidential advice now using the MoneyHelper Debt advice locator toolOpens in a new window

For more information and tools to support with money problems and guidance on dealing with debt, MoneyHelperOpens in a new window

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Notes to editors

  1. The Financial Wellbeing Survey is a nationally representative survey of 10,306 adults living in the UK. It consists of online and postal interviews during July to September 2021. The research was conducted for the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) by Critical Research.
  2. The Money and Pensions Service defines priority bills as the following as part of its Financial Wellbeing Survey: Rent / Mortgage, Council tax / Council rates, TV Licence, Child maintenance payments, Court fines, Tax debts, Car finance, Hire purchase payments for appliances (e.g. fridge, washing machine, business equipment etc.), Over-payment of benefits/ tax credits, Utility bills (not water bills).

About MoneyHelper

The MoneyHelper website also offers a number of easy-to-use guides and tools such as the Find Your Way ForwardOpens in a new window guide, to help people deal with the financial impact of the pandemic and avoid financial problems worsening in the future.    

For those struggling with indebtedness, MoneyHelper’s money experts offer free, impartial and confidential debt advice over the phone, online and via WhatsApp, and urge people to get in touch right away for support and guidance by calling 0800 138 7777.  

Media enquiries

For media enquiries please contact MaPS Press Office:

020 8132 5284Opens in a new window in a new window