Fragile finances leading to poor mental health, research finds
New research shows more than a quarter of people feel worse off financially since the start of the pandemic
Of those whose finances have been affected, two thirds say it’s had a negative impact on their mental health
Yorkshire Building Society is encouraging people to use the New Year to review their finances, and offers tips for good financial health
Over a quarter (27%) of people in the UK feel financially worse off than when the pandemic began, with two in three (67%) saying it’s negatively impacted their mental health, new research has found.
Among those whose mental health has been affected, the majority (65%) said they were anxious as a result of their fragile finances.
Yorkshire Building Society, who commissioned the research through Opinium[i], hopes people will use the start of the year as an opportunity to face their finances and take steps to review their money situation and reduce financial anxiety.
The survey showed almost half (47%) of respondents whose finances had been negatively affected this year felt depressed, and two fifths (42%) said they struggled to sleep. Others reported having mood swings (36%), feeling helpless (34%) and one in five (19%) said relationships have been disrupted as a result.
The Yorkshire encourages customers who have concerns about their finances or experience health conditions that may affect their ability to manage their money, to have a confidential chat with its colleagues to help them better respond to specific needs people may have.
Sue Buckle, vulnerable customer lead at Yorkshire Building Society, said:
We know January can feel like a bleak month with short days, cold weather and the cost of Christmas catching up with people, but this year comes with the added pressure of the pandemic and for some, financial hardship they may not have anticipated at the start of the year.
Our research indicates the negative effect the pandemic has had on many people’s finances is leading to poor mental health and it’s important that’s not ignored. We don’t want people to suffer in silence and would encourage anyone who is feeling overwhelmed about their money situation to speak out – talk to someone they can trust, get in touch with the organisations involved with their money, or seek professional help from one of the many great charities available to help.
We understand not everyone will feel comfortable discussing their mental health or other needs with us, but it is important people know we’re here to help them manage their money when things get difficult.
Once we know more about a customer’s situation we can take steps together to address their finances and where necessary, put them in touch with independent organisations such as the Money Advice Trust and the Samaritans, who can provide appropriate financial and mental health support.
Help managing money during difficult times
Yorkshire Building Society offers the following tips to help people face their finances this New Year:
Understand your spending habits – if you are worrying about money or don’t feel in control, keep a spending diary to track your finances and look at what’s essential and where you can make cutbacks to reduce your outgoings. The Yorkshire has a budget calculator that could help you to review your money.
Organise your finances – choose a regular time to review your finances and consider setting up a monthly budget, or withdrawing only the money you plan to spend in a given period to help avoid impulse purchases.
Talk to someone you can trust –a problem shared is often a problem halved as the saying goes so speaking to someone you can trust, be it friends, family or colleagues, could be a big comfort.
Speak to your bank or building society – whether you’re worried about something relating to your mortgage or your savings, speak to your provider to discuss any concerns. You might find it useful to prepare for meeting with them by writing down your worries and having relevant paperwork to hand.
Seek professional help – there are organisations on hand to help if you’re struggling to make ends meet or worried about your financial situation. Money Advice Trust or Citizens Advice Bureau can offer guidance on money issues, whilst MIND or the Samaritans provide support to people experiencing poor mental health, and your GP will be able to provide further advice.
Contact details for charities mentioned:
Samaritans – call free on 116 123
MIND - 0300 123 3393 (provides an information and signposting service, open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)
[i] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from research conducted by Opinium Research, with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 8th December 2020.