The Mental Health Debt Connection: How to Cope With Financial Stress



When it comes to problem debt and mental health, the adage “which comes first the chicken or the egg” is an appropriate analogy. In some cases, debt may be causing mental stress. In other cases, mental health issues could result in debt.


Although the majority of debt can be simply the result of hardship, lack of knowledge about how to manage money or decision-making based on emotions, there is growing awareness that mental health issues can seriously impact a person’s financial health.


According to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, 46 percent of people in problem debt have a mental health issue. Out of 5,500 people surveyed, 72 percent said that their mental health problems had made their financial situation worse. Those mental health problems can include a broad range of issues including depression, anxiety and brain disease or injury.


Regardless of the cause, problem debt is stressful and needs to be resolved.


How to Deal with Financial Stress


Whether you are in debt or struggling financially due to a mental health issue, hardships or past decisions, it’s important to take steps to address the situation. Here are a few tips to get started.


Step 1: Take time to get to the root of the problem


Understanding the reasons why you are in debt is important so you can avoid those situations again or get the help you need to improve the situation.


Step 2: Get support and guidance


Whether debt is the cause of your mental health issue or the result of struggling with negative mental conditions, it’s important to seek support to help you manage your health or stress issues first. Depending on the nature of your concern, it may be helpful to talk to a financial counselor who understands mental health issues. While taking this first step may seem uncomfortable, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Many people experience mental health issues and are grateful they received support afterward.

If lack of money to get help is an issue, a local church or community organization may be able to help.


Step 3: Create a plan to improve your finances


Once you understand the factors leading to your financial stress, learn as much as you can about how to make wise decisions despite any emotional challenges or mental health issues. If you are dealing with a certain type of mental health issue, you may need additional assistance to figure out a plan that works best for you. Also, look for financial institutions that train their staff on how to help in special situations.


Step 4: Focus on the present and future rather than dwelling on the past


No matter the reason you are in debt, it’s important to think positively and avoid beating yourself up about past decisions or behaviors that led to the debt. While it’s good to avoid past mistakes, give yourself some grace and focus on doing the right thing moving forward. This will not only help you make better decisions but also keep your mental health stronger.


If you are struggling with financial issues and need support and options to get through a hard time, Select FCU staff members are prepared to assist you. To reach out, call (210) 223-6561.


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