Our financial status can have an impact on our mental health — both positively and negatively. When you don’t have money worries, you may find you’re happier and more content. Not having enough money or struggling to cope with debt could lead to stress, anxiety and, ultimately, worsened mental health. Likewise, during a period of poorer mental health, you may find you spend more on impulse buys to make yourself feel better in the short-term. Over time, this behaviour can create further financial worries which, if left unaddressed, could lead to further mental health concerns.
Each quarter, True Potential Investor creates their Tackling The Savings Gap Consumer Savings and Debt Data report to establish Britain’s current financial position and outlook. The Q3 2017 edition of this report presents some interesting findings with regards to financial worries.
Findings from the stocks and shares ISA provider’s Q3 2017 report show that a third of households in the UK worry about money daily. There is a clear gender split within these figures, with 38.7% of women worrying about their finances every day, compared to just over a quarter (25.8%) of men.
Perhaps surprisingly, those with the greatest frequency of money worries are those in full-time employment with a side-line to generate additional cash. 45% of this group worry daily, even though on paper, we would assume that a double revenue stream would make this group more financially comfortable than some others.
We widely assume that securing employment equates to financial security — yet some are starting to question how true this is. Recently, the media has been awash with reports of professionals falling victim to financial struggles — despite their traditionally well-regarded careers.
Nurses & hospital employees
In 2016, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) gave RCN Foundation hardship grants to more than 700 nurses and healthcare assistants — averaging at £500 each. The grants are given out to help full-time nursing staff cope with the costs of food, travel, rent and mortgage payments. In total, over a quarter of a million pounds was given out — even though just £56,000 was awarded a decade ago.
A November 2017 survey by the RCN found that 40% of nurses lose sleep because of their financial stresses. 70% said they were financially worse off now than they were five years ago, while almost a quarter had taken up another job to top-up their income.
Teachers & education professionals
It’s a similar scenario for teachers and educational staff. A study by Leeds Beckett University reported on by The Independent has found that over the past year, the number of teachers applying for help from the UK’s main education support charity to pay for housing and transport increased by 40%.
Surveying by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found a drop of more than a tenth in teachers’ salaries over the last decade. As financial struggles and money worries rise for many, could this be impacting the mental health of teachers? 54% of teachers reported poor mental health, while 81% said poor mental health negatively impacted the pupil-teacher relationship.
A cross-sector problem?
Are the above issues solely experienced by educational and healthcare staff, or is it a problem affecting workforces across sectors? Findings suggest it could be the latter.
Neyber’s The DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2017 report discovered that the biggest concern for a third of employees is their finances. 35% said they were unhappy with their existing financial situation, while just under a quarter have lost sleep over their money worries.
This worrying is having a knock-on effect on employee performance too, a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey has found. A quarter said money worries had affected their job performance, with 30% of these employees working in the public sector.
With Britain’s workforce clearly suffering from financial worries, we need to turn our attention to financial support, awareness and education to help find a resolution. With money worries clearly having an impact on our mental health, addressing the issue could lead to benefits across the UK’s workforce.