There are many things that can affect people’s mental health and money worries are one of them
On Time to Talk Day – a day dedicated to helping with such problems – Yorkshire Building Society has revealed it has seen a 13 per cent annual increase in the number of customers experiencing mental health difficulties.
YBS says that it encourages customers suffering mental health problems to come forward and ask for help – and it has offered advice on what people can do and what it and other financial providers can do to help.
Money worries: There is an established link between money issues and mental health
Time to Talk is a national day encouraging people to talk about mental health and the building society’s figures echo a national report from the NHS, showing a 14 per cent rise in absences at work related to anxiety and stress between 2016 and 2017.
The NHS also found that one in three sick notes issued by doctors are for mental health problems.
YBS says it encourages customers to share health concerns to help it better respond to their specific needs. It added that during 2017, depression was the main cause of mental health difficulties experienced among its customers – with anxiety and stress also shown to be impacting its members.
The mental health charity MIND explains there is a link between money and mental health. ‘Poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse,’ it says.
Seeking help may be a difficult hurdle to overcome initially, but doing so should make things better.
Janis Hambling, head of Yorkshire BS’s vulnerable customer support team, said: ‘We’ve seen a growing trend in the number of our customers experiencing mental health problems – and that’s just the ones we know about.
‘Mental health can impact many facets of your life, including your finances. We’re urging customers not to suffer in silence, we’re here to support you and take steps together to help manage your money during this difficult time.
‘You can have a confidential chat with our colleagues – either in one of our branches or over the phone – to explore the best options for you, and we’ll also arrange meetings to review your circumstances to see if we can help you get any additional support.
‘We can help you get in touch with independent organisations, such as Money Advice Trust and The Samaritans, who can provide you with financial and wider mental health help and support.’
HOW YBS HAS HELPED
To give a real-life example of how it has recently helped a customer with a mental health problem, YBS told This is Money about the following case.
Branch colleagues had noticed a deterioration in a regular customer’s appearance and behaviour. They had started making large cash withdrawals, telling colleagues that they were terminally ill with a short time left to live.
One colleague arranged a sit down with the customer to see if we could help them regarding their plans. The colleague encouraged an open and honest conversation in which the customer revealed that they were in fact not ill but intending to end their life. Naturally, our colleague expressed concern and a desire to help at this difficult time.
The colleague immediately flagged this with the society’s specialist team who suggested referring to crisis services to gain support for the customer.
The local crisis team made contact with them to assist. Shortly after the colleague followed up to check in with the customer and encouraged them to speak to family and friends as they were still struggling and felt their circumstances had not improved.
Not long after this, the customer contacted the society to let us know they were in a much better place now and felt it was important to thank us for the ongoing support we provided during that difficult time.
Don’t suffer in silence: Speak to your bank and it might be able to make things easier
How to get help if money worries are affecting your mental health
YBS has the following advice for anyone worried about managing their finances during difficult times:
1. Understand your financial habits
Money worries can contribute to poor mental health which can also cloud your decision making. This may make you feel you are not in control of your finances, or may trigger bad habits such as using retail therapy as a temporary high. Be aware of your behaviour and aim to keep a spending diary to keep a track of your finances.
2. Talk to someone you can trust
The old adage of a problem shared is a problem halved is very true. Getting your problems off your chest and having someone to listen to you can be a big comfort.
3. Seek professional help
If you are struggling to make ends meet there are lots of places where you can turn. Organisations such as Money Advice Trust or Citizens Advice Bureau offer guidance on money issues, whilst MIND or the Samaritans provide support to people experiencing poor mental health.
4. Keep the lines of communications open with your financial provider.
It’s important to speak to your lender or financial service provider if you are struggling as they can work with you to help you manage your finances. To avoid any anxiety try to prepare for these conversations in advance by writing down what you want to say, and getting relevant paperwork ready.
5. Get organised
To keep on top of things choose a day and time once a week to review your finances and set up a monthly budget. Consider buying a small box file to keep all your relevant documentation in one place so they are easy to find. A tip for keeping costs down is withdrawing only the money you plan to spend that week; this will help you to avoid impulse purchases.
6. Keep socially and physically active
Money problems can affect your relationships and social life, and withdrawing from people which will only exacerbate poor mental health. Try to maintain regular interaction with people, even if it’s just popping to a friend’s house for a brew. Exercise is known to be a great mood booster, so it may be a good idea to keep active – something as simple as a 20-minute walk would really help.
Anyone experiencing mental health problems should seek advice from either their GP, or contact the Samaritans online or by calling 116 123.