Its time to talk about mental health difficulties and money says the YBS
Yorkshire Building Society is marking Time to Talk Day (Thursday, 1 February), a national day which encourages people to talk about mental health, by urging customers to speak out about any difficulties they’re facing after seeing a 13% year-on-year increase1 in the number experiencing mental health difficulties.
The figure reflects a national report from the NHS2 which shows a 14% increase in absences at work relating to anxiety and stress year-on-year from 2015-16 to 2016-17. The report also reveals that one in three sick notes issued by doctors are for mental health problems.
The Society already encourages customers to share health concerns to help it better respond to their specific needs. During 20173, the Society recorded depression as the main cause of mental health difficulties experienced amongst the Yorkshire’s customers, with anxiety and stress also shown to be impacting members’ lives.
According to the charity MIND4 there is a link between money and mental health, and this can generate a snowball effect - poor mental health can make managing finances harder and worrying about money can make mental health difficulties worse.
The Yorkshire suggests there are actions you can take to help manage your money during difficult times:
Understand your financial habits. Money worries can contribute to poor mental health which can also cloud your decision making. This may make you feel you are not in control of your finances, or may trigger bad habits such as using retail therapy as a temporary high. Be aware of your behaviour and aim to keep a spending diary to keep a track of your finances.
Talk to someone you can trust. The old adage of a problem shared is a problem halved is very true. Getting your problems off your chest and having someone to listen to you can be a big comfort.
Seek professional help. If you are struggling to make ends meet there are lots of places where you can turn. Organisations such as Money Advice Trust or Citizens Advice Bureau offer guidance on money issues, whilst MIND or the Samaritans provide support to people experiencing poor mental health.
Keep the lines of communications open with your financial provider. It’s important to speak to your lender or financial service provider if you are struggling as they can work with you to help you manage your finances. To avoid any anxiety try to prepare for these conversations in advance by writing down what you want to say, and getting relevant paperwork ready.
Get organised. To keep on top of things choose a day and time once a week to review your finances and set up a monthly budget. Consider buying a small box file to keep all your relevant documentation in one place so they are easy to find. A tip for keeping costs down is withdrawing only the money you plan to spend that week; this will help you to avoid impulse purchases.
Keep socially and physically active. Money problems can affect your relationships and social life, and withdrawing from people which will only exacerbate poor mental health. Try to maintain regular interaction with people, even if it’s just popping to a friend’s house for a brew. Exercise is known to be a great mood booster, so it may be a good idea to keep active – something as simple as a 20 minute walk would really help.
Janis Hambling, head of the Yorkshire’s vulnerable customer support team, said:
“We’ve seen a growing trend in the number of our customers experiencing mental health problems – and that’s just the ones we know about.
“Mental health can impact many facets of your life, including your finances. We’re urging customers not to suffer in silence, we’re here to support you and take steps together to help manage your money during this difficult time.
“You can have a confidential chat with our colleagues – either in one of our branches or over the phone – to explore the best options for you, and we’ll also arrange meetings to review your circumstances to see if we can help you get any additional support.
“We can help you get in touch with independent organisations, such as Money Advice Trust and The Samaritans, who can provide you with financial and wider mental health help and support.”
Anyone experiencing mental health problems should seek advice from either their GP or contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or at www.samaritans.org.
1 The Yorkshire saw a 13% increase in the number of customers known to be experiencing mental health problems (5% of customer base) from January to August 2016, compared to the same period in 2017.
2 Data from the NHS released in September 2017 analysed more than 12 million of ‘sick notes’, issued over almost two and a half years from GP practices across England.
3 Figures from January to August 2017. The percentages relate to the specific types of mental health problems recorded by the Society’s vulnerable customer team, relating to customers registered as experiencing mental health difficulties.
4 MIND is a charity that offers advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem