One in six people who have experienced money problems (16%) have had suicidal thoughts because of their financial situation, according to research by the charity Mental Health UK.
A quarter of adults who have experienced money problems said they felt guilty and 41% felt embarrassed, according to a YouGov survey of 2,000 UK adults for the charity. Half of the adults questioned said they wouldn’t know where to get support and 28% didn’t talk about these problems to anyone.
Chris Lynch, from Chester, suffered from debt problems around the same time as he developed mental health problems while at university.
“I was drinking a lot and debts began to build. As I got into work both mental health problems and debts continued to get worse. At one point I was in £30,000 of debt,” he said.
“I never thought I’d be alive long enough to pay it back, so I didn’t really worry about the debt. Looking back, I could easily have ended up homeless or ending my life.”
People also reported feeling stressed (65%), anxious (62%), angry (20%), isolated (23%) and depressed (44%) as a result of their money worries, and Mental Health UK said financial concerns were also causing unhealthy behaviours, with 15% of people surveyed saying they drink more alcohol as a result and 13% saying they smoked more.
The charity estimates that around four million people in the UK are at risk of mental health issues because they’re having financial difficulties, with nearly a third of the population struggling to pay bills or rent.
Brian Dow, Managing Director of Mental Health UK said the figures highlight “just how vicious the cycle of mental health and money problems can be.”
“People feel embarrassed and isolated, and don’t know where to get help. Instead they bottle up feelings of stress, anger and depression, and turn to unhealthy things like smoking and drinking. Of course, this only makes the problem worse and that’s how things can spiral downwards. As this research shows, this can eventually lead to suicidal thoughts,” he said.
“We want more people to be aware of the link between money troubles and mental health problems, to recognise when they might be struggling, and be able to reach out for help when they need it.”
You can find practical advice and support for your mental health and money issues at Mental Health and Money Advice. If you need more direct help with your finances, there are a variety of free-to-use services including: Citizen’s Advice, Stepchange, Christians Against Poverty, National Debtline and Debt Support Trust.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org