Money and mental health don’t mix. If you’re struggling with your finances you may feel anxious or depressed; if your mental health is poor then this makes it harder to manage money.
It’s a vicious circle – one in four people with a mental health problem also has debts and one in two adults with debts also have a mental health problem, according to the charity Rethink Mental Illness.
Last year, a YouGov survey showed that just over half of 18-24 year-olds said they regularly worried about money, with 32% feeling their debts were a "heavy burden".
For some, it simply comes down to trying to keep up with others. A 2014 survey by the Money Advice Service found that young adults in Britain are getting themselves into debt at an average of £1,260 ($1,570) in 'social spending', out of fear of appearing tight or poor among friends.
That urge to spend is hard-wired into us. Ales Zivkovic, a psychotherapist and counsellor with a background in economic research and healthcare, says that you may often find yourself feeling anxious about how much money you have in the bank because you want to maintain the perception of yourself as a successful person. This behavior can have unintended consequences on your wallet and mental wellbeing.
“If you’ve been brought up in a way that you place a lot of emphasis on doing well at work, earning a lot and getting your self-worth from climbing the social ladder, then as soon you fall back, anxiety or depression is likely to hit,” he says.
Banks should be doing more
Banks should be doing more to support and protect vulnerable people, argued research published last month by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. The report suggested introducing voice recognition to help those who struggle to remember passwords and pins, and allowing customers to communicate via email or web chat when they’re finding it hard to talk on the phone.
Some companies have started to act – last year, Santander introduced voice-controlled mobile banking and signed up the Time to Change pledge to help end mental-health stigma. But change across the industry is slow, especially when it comes to embracing new technology. A few app-based banks, such as Atom, Monzo and Tandem, are challenging the status quo of banking.
These young and hungry-to-make-a-difference start-ups are calling out the centuries-old banking sector on its failure to address these issues. But whether the progress will be adopted across mainstream banks... we’ll just have to wait and see.