Mental health problems are three times worse if you have debt


Here are some facts about the correlation between these two:

  • The likelihood of having mental health problems is three (3) times higher among people who have debt.

  • Depression, anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders are among the most common illnesses in people who have financial problems.

  • People who commit suicide are eight (8) times more likely to be in debt.

  • Homeowners have lower levels of psychological distress compared to renters (providing that the homeowners can afford their housing payments).

  • Difficulty paying for housing has a major effect on mental well-being. In fact, people who struggle to pay for housing, experience similar distress levels of someone experiencing divorce or job loss.

  • Some researchers theorize that worrying about money leads to increased stress and reduced resilience against mental health.

  • Other researchers argue that mental health problems interfere with a person’s ability to manage their money. Mental health issues could decrease self-control and lead to overspending as well as a person’s ability to get and stay hired.

My take on all of this is that financial problems and mental health problems fuel each other – Going into debt may increase your chance of developing mental health issues but a mental health problem may exacerbate your risk of falling deeper into debt. When you are mentally healthy, it is easier to attack your debt. When your finances are in order, it is easier to work on your mental wellbeing.

My advice as a Financial Counsellor: Have an honest look at your finances and if it is not where you would like it to be, then reach out for help.

Even if you aren’t currently experiencing financial problems, it is a good practice to do a “financial checkup” to make sure things are “well”. That way, if mental health problems come knocking, you will have greater capacity to face it head-on without the burden of financial problems.

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