Good Mental Health & Money Matters

There’s no doubt, good mental health and good financial health are much more interconnected than people like to admit.

Mental health and financial security are strongly linked. Experiencing a mental illness can add to financial stress, and financial stress can add to a mental illness — often causing a self-perpetuating cycle that requires practical strategies to overcome. The way people respond to financial stress is linked to their well-being and our relationship to debt is usually informed by how we saw our families and friends interact with their finances when we were kids.

The apple really doesn't fall far from the tree, initially.

You don't have to be a financial expert to realise the vast majority of relational problems have their roots in financial problems.

Financial pressures can create psychological distress, which affects peoples coping mechanisms such as confidence, feeling in control of their life and even their self-esteem. People's financial lives and mindsets are connected to their confidence levels, and in turn to their good mental health.

speech bubble - Good mental health affects good financial health

Mental Good Health

Mental illness is now the leading cause of long-term sickness absences among Australian workers costing our Australian economy over $12 billion per year in lost productivity.

  • 7 out of 10 couples report money causes tension in their relationships with disagreement over finances a stronger predictor of divorce than other commonly cited causes of marital disagreements. — Relationships Australia

A Harvard study published in the August 2013 edition of Science reports;

  • Significant financial stress can even trigger diminished cognitive performance in our decision-making abilities - equal to a loss of 13 points of IQ.
  • 'When we think about people who are financially stressed, we think they are short on money, but the truth is they are also short on cognitive capacity' - Sendhil Mullainathan, study co-author.
  • Unresolved financial issues can lead to blame, misplaced anger, stress, and intimacy problems in relationships — Relationships Australia

The Connection to Financial Good Health

speech bubble - Good mental health and financial health interconnect Our experience has been many people report not feeling confident about their money matters and experience difficulty sharing that with their partner or other family adults.

  • Some people have never considered whether many common outdated ideas about money may be linked to past parental attitudes towards money. (We call these Moneyisms).
  • Many people report spending at least an hour a night on their mobile devices browsing the web but never reading one article a month on improving their money skills.
  • Many newlyweds report wanting to have a deeper money conversation with their partner but feel they lack the structured resources to help do that better.
  • Many young families report feeling sandwiched between teaching their kids about money matters but find themselves overspending looking after their own aging parents.
  • Many LGBTQI+ members of the community cite their unique needs are simply not understood by traditional financial advice businesses.
  • Many Business Owners report, that while being confident in managing business finances and risks at work, are less than happy with how that translates to managing their home finances and the normal risks of family life.

Mental Good Health as a Continuum, rather than a fixed target

When talking about good mental health, it's useful to see good mental health is more of a continuum - with a range of variable stages - rather than just a single fixed place in time.

The range of locations in the mental good health spectrum changes with our stress levels

Beyond Blue explains the Continuum example as 'where mental health is at one end of the spectrum – represented by feeling good and functioning well – while mental health conditions (or mental illness) are at the other – represented by symptoms that affect people’s thoughts, feelings or behavior.'

Some skills are worth learning before we need to use them

Whether you’re single, parenting or partnered, (or somewhere in between) and regardless of whether your family is biological or logical, there are ways to improve the protective factors around your good mental health.

  • Developing a better understanding of how your own financial world works.
  • Learning what you're financial options are, and
  • Understanding how to better use financial products and services to your advantage.

These are all practical and important protective factors against difficult times and run-away financial stress.

Our life and relationships are interconnected, so in the same way our children's health affects the whole family, men's health affects the entire family as well. It's time to see men's health (all of it) as a family issue.

You’re not alone: life just sucks sometimes

When we’re talking about good mental health, it's important to ‘say it like it is’.

Everyone goes through a rough patch in life and we all experience different stresses and strains during tough times. Everyone has times when we feel down, stressed or frightened.

  • But sometimes problems don't go away on their own and we might not be able to solve them by ourselves alone.
  • There will always come times when old ways no longer work on new problems.

When this happens it can have a serious impact on a person's work, relationships with family and friends, and even physical and mental health. This is probably the time to learn some new skills from a mental health support service.

Not-so-secret men's business

Although we all go through difficult times in life, often men and women experience the same situations in very different ways.

Many men find it difficult to talk about their emotions and we end up expecting others to ‘just get on with it’ without discovering if the cause of the problem could be removed, reduced or even avoided next time.

  • And men often don't know how to ask our mates, ‘what are you doing to get through that?
  • Fifty percent of men claim to rarely talk about deeper personal issues with friends, and a third wish they could open up more to their friends - The Banksia Project

It makes sense to see if there are useful new skills we can all learn before we actually need them.  Perhaps we can even head off some of those financial stress triggers before they become so damaging to our relationships.

speech bubble - good mental health allows you to live your life in a positive way

Get better informed about managing stress and good mental health

No conversation about good financial advice and becoming more life confident would be complete without acknowledging the very real effect difficult times, stress and strain take upon a family unit.

With some learning and planning, everyone can become more life confident

The Canadian Department of National Defence in collaboration with the United States Marine Corps Department of Psychology developed a framework showing how good mental health is more a continuum and a moving target - not a fixed point in time.

US Marines train for mental health - why shouldn't you?

Given that US Marines are trained to the peak of physical fitness and mental health, (while being exposed to the most severe psychological and emotional issues of service), we thought it worthwhile learning about their insights about the importance of good mental health.

  • The model (shown below) recognises a range of mental and physical health problems that can affect men during their life. 
  • The location icon on the image below shows the various states of mental health a person can be at during their lifetime.

So depending on where you are along this Mental Good Health Continuum, there's always a range of different strategies you could use to help get you where you want to go faster.

Right click and open in a new tab to get a bigger view of mental health as a continuum

Immediate resources for Good Mental Health

Tough times come to us all in different ways.

However, there are things you can do to get through tough times better and you certainly don't have to do it alone.

  • The most important thing to realise is tough times usually pass and there are new skills we can all learn to help us through.
Sometimes life doesn't get easier - we simply learn new ways to manage it better.

When is the best time to learn a skill? before you need it

If reading this has encouraged you to learn more about the types of professional support available to help people get through tough times, why not add one of their numbers to your phone contact list for later? 

It may not be for you, but it's always good to have a way to help a mate out later (perhaps SMS them a helpline number) if they’re going through a particularly tough time and might need some extra support.

Here are some useful Good Mental Health phone and web resources 

Why not add one to your phone contacts list in case a friend needs to use it later?

13 14 14

MensLine Australia
1300 789 978

Kids Help Line
1800 55 1800

Relationships Australia
1300 364 277

Beyond Blue
1300 22 4636

1800 184 527 & Webchat

National Debt Help Line
1800 007 007

Suicide Call Back Service
1300 659 467

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