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14 May 2024

How to link mental health conversations with financial wellbeing

Poor mental health and financial problems are often closely tied. Fixing one can often help fix the other

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Talking about money worries is a bit of a taboo subject in the UK. The topic is surrounded by stigmas such as debt, poor mental health and absence from work, so we avoid it.

But sweeping things under the rug doesn’t work. Long-term, if we don’t break taboos, taboos can break us.

Financial education plays a huge part in increasing preparedness and reducing stress.

But stress and worries can build barriers in people’s minds, a powerful resistance to engaging. They may have the answers but feel overwhelmed or unsure where to start. So to forge a path forward, we need to be there with them.

To help people see through the haze of financial stress, we need to connect with people as individuals, on their own level.

A vicious cycle

Poor mental health can lead to money problems:

  • Depression may lead to a lack of motivation to manage finances
  • Manic highs and lows can lead to impulsive financial decisions
  • Self-soothing by buying things can lead to overspending

And money problems can lead to poor mental health:

  • Stretched budgets could mean less food, heat, or medicine
  • Financial communications might trigger feelings of anxiety and panic
  • Persistent worrying could lead to sleep problems and burnout

This cycle can get out of control, spiralling downward and affecting relationships, work and every other part of an employee’s life. It’s critical we let them know that help is at hand.

Breaking the taboo

If you don’t offer much support yet, it’s a good opportunity to get employees involved. Ask them what they want and need and build around their answers.

Maybe some want private 1-2-1 meetings, while others would prefer group workshops or an anonymous online forum. By starting the conversations here, you’ll already be taking steps to normalising talking about money and financial stress, and showing that it’s important to your business.

To start these conversations, try to make it inviting and engaging instead of stuffy and serious. You could:

  • Make it real with storytelling
  • Make it interactive with quizzes or games
  • Make it relevant with personalised guidance
  • Make it easy by slotting into existing routines

This should all be supported by a more general financial education programme that all employees can access.

Why employers should care

Why dedicate resources and people to tackling financial stress? According to UK charity Mental Health At Work, 66% of employees feel like their company doesn’t care about their financial situation, making them more likely to salary hunt elsewhere and less productive in the working day.

In other words, beating financial stress is in your business’ best interests too. And if you have limited resources, you can partially rely on the government’s Money and Pensions Service.

A little bit of help can go a long way

At Cushon, we offer our employees financial wellbeing 1-2-1 sessions through our Better With Money service, and this is what one of our attendees told us.

“I worried every day about the state of my finances since the pandemic and how I would ever sort it out.

“I’d freak out and freeze when I got a debt letter, which only led to more fines and interest. I was so ashamed, especially as I work in finance – I should have this stuff sorted.

“In the end, all it took was someone to talk things through with, who was calm and organised, knew their stuff, and wouldn’t judge me.

“It’s been a few months and there’s a long road ahead, but I know I have it in hand. I’m so grateful. And I have so much more energy for the things that are actually important.”

All it took was a conversation and guidance to drastically improve an employee’s quality of life – a positive impact they feel every day.

And if money worries are even common among financial professionals, clearly nobody is immune to financial stress.

In fact, our research shows that money worries affect the mental health of two out of three employees in the UK. So let’s get talking and change their lives.

In partnership with Cushon

Cushon is an online savings&investments platform provider, offering holistic workplace savings.

Contact us today