Almost every New Zealander will experience money troubles at some point in their lives and one in six will be diagnosed with a common mental illness. The two are closely linked – if you have poor financial health, you’re more likely to struggle with mental health issues and vice versa.
Solve one problem and you could alleviate the other.
What is the link between financial and mental health?
Anything that causes stress or anxiety is likely to worsen mental health and few things cause more stress than financial difficulty. This can be a vicious cycle, as money troubles cause symptoms of anxiety like lack of sleep, irritability and increased substance use to cope. In turn, this makes it more difficult to solve your financial problems
Getting the help you need from mental health professionals can also be costly, which makes breaking out of the cycle increasingly difficult.
The root cause of financial stress
There are countless causes of financial stress. Paying the mortgage is a common one – 4 out of 10 new home loans plunge the buyers into mortgage stress straight away, according to Canstar. Credit card debt and spending problems are also common – one in three Kiwis don’t pay their cards off in full every month. It can also come from something unexpected like your car breaking down or your landlord increasing your rent.
Whatever your struggles are, remember:
- You’re not alone. There is always someone who can help.
- Everything is temporary. Your financial problems can be solved.
- What you’re going through is completely normal. Everyone struggles with their finances at some point in their lives and it’s nothing to feel ashamed of.
You’re not alone – if you need help, there’s always somewhere you can turn to. The government offers a number of resources on their website, including a referral to work and income for financial support and links to counsellors and mental health support groups. Both depression.org.nz and thelowdown.co.nz offer strategies for dealing with mental health problems and finding support if you need it. Fincap.org.nz is another useful resource that offers free budgeting services to help pay off your debt and save for the future.
Planning for a better future
Once you’ve started to tackle urgent money problems, it’s time to work on building a brighter financial future. Regardless of how difficult your situation may be now, with time and the help of a smart strategy, it will get better:
- Get financial help if you need it: if you are unemployed or otherwise eligible, work and income may be able to offer financial assistance.
- Create a budget: make sure that you can actually stick to it. Review your spending at the end of the month and think about where you overspend.
- Pay down debt: work on paying your debt off as quickly as possible without causing more financial stress. It’s a great idea to have debt repayments automatically transfer as soon as you receive your pay.
- Protect yourself: get affordable insurance that will cover you if the unexpected happens.
- Invest: Join Kiwisaver to set yourself up for the future. Both your employer and the government will contribute toward your fund, which you can use to buy a home or retire.
There’s always a way out and there’s always someone who can help. Reach out to family and friends straight away and have a chat. If you need a hand sorting out your financial troubles, call us any time.
Otherwise, share this with family or friends if you think it might help them. Most importantly, take care of yourself, and look out for those close to you – it’s never too late to get help.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 (to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions)
Anxiety phone line – 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)