Whether you suffer from a mental illness yourself, or you care for a close friend or family member who does, you will soon understand that managing everyday tasks is often much harder for them. Even those who don’t suffer from a mental illness will realise that managing money can be difficult. Not only this, but poor financial management can have a number of negative effects on an individual’s life and wellbeing. When an individual suffers from anxiety and depression, the usual worries and fears surrounding money are compounded and can quickly build up and become overwhelming.
Money worries are one of the leading causes of stress for all of us. It doesn’t require the presence of a mental illness. The question of how to manage anxiety induced by money worries is one that is relevant to every adult. For adults who do not have the additional stresses caused by a mental illness, there are a number of simple techniques for making managing money easier. For individuals who are dealing with depression or another mental illness, a different approach and more targeted techniques are needed.
There is no right way or wrong way to approach financial management in patients with mental illnesses, just as the answer to the question of how to deal with depression will vary from patient to patient, as will the most effective techniques for helping patients to better manage their money. For this reason, rather than offering a set of suggested techniques, which may or may not work, for this article, we have broken the advice down by the different aspects of everyday living where good financial management is the most important.
The link between food and mood is often sadly underappreciated. Many mental health conditions are exacerbated by poor diets and this is a huge problem. There is much debate among psychiatrists as to the underlying mechanisms which cause the physical symptoms of depression, but it is now generally accepted that deficiencies in certain neurotransmitters play a significant role. To better understand the link between poor diet and emotional instability, consider the following: in order for your body to synthesize the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood, it needs access to the chemical building blocks required to build them. There are a variety of compounds which are needed to synthesize each neurotransmitter. Some of these compounds, known as essential amino acids, cannot themselves be synthesized in the body. These compounds can only be obtained from the food that we eat. If you aren’t eating the right foods, then your body simply won’t have what it needs to build the neurotransmitters. As a result, the patient will experience emotional instability.
It is, therefore, important that patients appreciate the importance of a good diet, and are also prepared to set aside the necessary amount of money to ensure that they can achieve one. Fortunately, there are resources that will help support people struggling to manage their finances. For example, Mental Health and Money Advice provide an easy to use budgeting planner for household spending, which could help manage spending on food.
One of the greatest public health challenges facing developed countries is that those in a lower socio-economic class are unable to afford high-quality food. Often, low quality, processed foods, are significantly less healthy than the more expensive options and contain less of the essential nutrients that are needed to stay healthy.
When suffering from a long-term, debilitating mental illness, many patients feel unable to venture outside. Being cooped up indoors, afraid to leave the house, can cause a patient’s mental state to rapidly decline. Holding down a job while suffering from a mental illness is often difficult. Attempting to deal with depression, while trying to manage the balance between depression and work, often ends with the patient losing their job. This can clearly have a significant impact on their wellbeing and can often cut off their last remaining point of contact with the outside world.
It is, therefore, very important that mental health patients have a plan for how they can go out and socialize with other people. This is easier said than done for many of them, in particular, those who are living with bipolar or suffering from generalized anxiety disorders. However, part of any mental health patient’s budgeting should make provisions for allowing them to go out and have fun with other people.
The old adage that a change of scenery can help to change one’s outlook holds true and is something that any mental health patient should remain mindful of. Those who are wondering how to deal with depression, or how to help someone with anxiety should consider whether they can help those people to travel and take in new sights and scenes. If you can’t drive them yourself, you might be able to provide them with company and support so that they feel able to take a train or bus out. It is worth including provisions for travel in any budgets you devise.
Prioritizing is a very important skill to master in order to manage finances efficiently. By focusing your efforts on specific areas of life, you greatly increase your chances of successful budgeting.