Poor mental health can make earning and managing money harder. And worrying about money can make your mental health worse. It can start to feel like a vicious cycle. Here, you can find out more about organising your finances, claiming benefits when you have a mental health problem, dealing with services, and looking after your mental health when you’re worried about money.
Worries about money can have an impact on your mental health. And your mental health can affect how you manage your money. Learn more about how the two affect each other, and get tips for getting to know your money and mood patterns.
Tips for organising your finances
- Make sure you’re claiming any extra money or support you’re entitled to.
- Put all your important documents in one place so you can find them easily. This could be letters, bank statements, payslips, bills and receipts.
- Check your bank balance at a regular, set time so you know what you’re spending your money on and how much you have left.
- Build money tasks into your daily or weekly routine. You could allocate a set amount of regular time to think about any tasks you need to do around money, for example paying bills. You could plan a relaxing activity for after you’ve finished. You could start by using this money and mental health toolkit from the Mental Health and Money Advice website.
- Make a plan for ways to distract yourself, if you notice changes in your mood that might affect your spending.
- If possible, use cash instead of cards. Take out only the amount of money you can afford to spend, for example for a weekly shop.
- Create a budget. The Money Helper website has budgeting advice for people who are self-employed, on a zero hour contract, or claiming Universal Credit.
- Make a list of all the essential things you need to spend money on every month. This could be things like rent or mortgage payments, energy bills, phone bills and food shops. The Mental Health and Money Advice website has a free budget planner which might help.
- Manage your debts if you can afford to. You could set up a standing order to pay off your debts each month. Or you could use an online debt tool. Use one of the tools on the StepChange website.
- If you’re struggling to pay off your debts, get debt advice. You might find it helpful to contact one of these debt organisations.
- If you’re struggling to pay off your debts, you could ask for a break from paying interest on your debts. This is possible under a Government scheme called breathing space. The National Debtline website has more information about the breathing space scheme.
- Use bank accounts which allow you to put money aside in separate pots. This can stop you spending the money you need for rent or bills. Money Saving Expert has more information about different banking apps.
- Set up direct debits for your bills and other regular payments so they don’t pile up. See our information on what to do if you can’t afford to pay bills.
We know it’s hard to access benefits. Often the media, or other people’s views, makes it feel like there’s a stigma attached to benefits. Some people have misconceptions about why we need benefits, and what they’re used for.
For many of us with mental health problems, it can feel like the whole benefits system isn’t designed to meet our needs.
But it’s important to know that benefits are there to support you. You have a right to claim them if you’re struggling to manage or just need that bit extra.
And even though the system is hard to navigate, there are lots of places where you can get support and information to help you with your claim.
Contact the Benefits for Better Mental Health, for personalised support.
Dealing with services
We all have to deal with different services – whether that’s a bank, energy provider, or a phone company.
You might decide to tell the service you’re dealing with that you have a mental health problem. This is up to you, and it’s important to think carefully about the decision. If you tell them, it might help them to be more understanding and give you any extra support you need. But you might also be worried about how you will be treated.
If you do decide to tell a service that you have a mental health problem, there are some things you should consider:
- Think about how much you want them to know. You don’t have to tell them everything. Maybe you just want them to know how your mental health affects your ability to pay bills, open letters or speak on the phone.
- Some services have a specialist team or staff member who deals with vulnerable customers. Ask to speak to them. Check the service’s website – they might have information for vulnerable customers.
- Explain why you’re telling them this information, and what you want them to use it for. For example, if you want them to tell you about limits they can put on your bank account.
- You could get a Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF) from your GP. This helps to make sure that debt companies take your mental health problems into account.
- Make sure you know your rights. There are laws in place to make sure your personal information is protected, including information about a mental health problem. There are also laws to make sure services support you if you have a mental health problem. Rethink Mental Illness has information on how your personal information is protected.
- See our information on the adjustments services have to make if you have a mental health problem.
I need mental health help now
It can feel hard to talk about money problems. And if you’ve had a bad experience in the past, you might feel as if there’s no point trying again. But there are lots of places you could turn to. If you need support with money, your mental health, or both, you might find these suggestions helpful.
Support for your mental health
- Talk to a trusted friend or family member.
- Speak to a support worker or health professional, like your GP.
- Access Oxfordshire Mind’s peer support. This is when people use their own experiences to help each other.
- Contact the Samaritans. Money worries can make you feel trapped and hopeless. If you’re finding it difficult to see a way forward, you can talk to Samaritans for free by calling 116 123.
- Get advice if you’re worried about loan sharks. Stop Loan Sharks provides information and support, and lets you report a suspected loan shark.
- If you need to send a letter to creditors, read these example letters from the National Debt Helpline.
- Contact a debt service near you. Christians Against Poverty provides support with debt and unemployment and lists the contact details of local debt services.
- Contact StepChange. StepChange provides free advice about money problems, debt and budgeting.
- Use the tools on the Money Helper website for people who are living on a squeezed income. These include tools for tracking your spending, saving money and getting help while you’re working.
- If you’re a student, speak to student services or your tutor. They could help you apply for extra grants or bursaries. See our information on managing your money as a student.
- Find a foodbank near you.
- The Mental Health and Money Advice website has guides on claiming benefits when you have a mental health problem.
- Get help with accessing benefits and grants from Benefits for Better Mental Health.
- Speak to someone from Citizens Advice. You could get free advice on your rights around money, housing and legal problems.
- Read tips about managing money from the Money Saving Expert.