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14 Apr 2022
by Tanya Woolf

5 Key steps to overcoming debt – and improving mental health

People with a mental illness are more than three times as likely to have problem debt - and vice-versa

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People often struggle to talk about debt - let alone do anything about it. But it is important to highlight the links between mental health and debt to ensure that everyone gets the support they need. 

With many people worried about the rising cost of living and feeling the financial strain because of the pandemic, it’s never been more important to let people know that debt help is available before it starts to have a negative effect on your mental health. 

How can you remove some of the stress linked to financial worries and seek the help to put you in the right headspace to tackle your money problems?

Understanding the link between debt and mental health

A study by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) has found that those with a mental illness are more than three times as likely to have problem debt than those without. Understanding the link between those two factors is vital to treatment and recovery, so we must also address the converse statement: those with debt are three times more likely to have a mental illness. 

People assume that manic spending is an impulsive act, but this is not always the case. Many factors contribute to stress about financial difficulties and are not just about spending money to feel better or escape problems. Often it is not late-night scrolling through shopping websites that lead to problem spending; instead, around birthdays,

Christmas, and celebrations, debt comes from an over-generosity and overestimating our capabilities while not wanting to let loved ones down.

The amount of debt someone has is not directly related to the levels of stress about it. Just £200 of liability for one person could be a significant problem for another. Alleviating some of the fears in your life can help to put your life back on track, getting you more in control of your financial situation. 

Key steps in beginning your recovery to less debt:  

1. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself – this may sound like an obvious thing to do if you’re feeling down, but many habits around problem spending stem from low self-esteem. Comparing ourselves to others, wanting to keep up with the latest trends and finding worth in what we can purchase are behaviours that we all indulge in, but it can get out of control when it goes beyond our financial means. From cooking to playing cards to doing a public talk on a specialist topic – taking charge and doing something you feel confident in can give you the boost you may need to start kicking bad spending habits. 

2. Be active with finding help – this problem isn’t going to go away by itself. Chances are if you are reading this article, you recognise there is a problem and are seeking advice from an expert. There are many services available throughout the UK to help you manage your finances. If you want to control your behaviours, you may need to talk to a qualified cognitive behavioural therapist to better understand personal triggers and develop techniques that work for you.

3. Be more aware of what is going on around you – don’t ignore the signs. Being aware of situations that make you feel uncomfortable, out of control or anxious, you can see things better for what they. 

4. Get excited about the future again – you may have been in debt so long that it is hard to see the light at the end of the financial tunnel, but planning can play a significant role in recovery. Plan a budget for the year, month, week or even day. Seeing through a goal to the end, regardless of how small it may seem, are all steps that will make you feel better and ideally get you on your way to more financial control. 

5. Don’t let the cycle of anxiety spending affect your future. Many people are walking around with crippling debt and, unfortunately, their mental health is suffering the consequences. Onebright Therapists understand debt is a widespread problem and can lead to much more severe issues like addiction.  

The only way to resolve your money worries is to talk about it and seek the support you need. There are many resources available to anyone seeking debt advice.

In partnership with Onebright

Onebright is a personalised on-demand mental healthcare company.

Contact us today