How money and mental health are intimately linked
It may not come as a surprise that “money” ranked Number 2 among stressors affecting Americans today, according to a recent finding of the American Psychology Association. What is surprising is the new focus on making the intimate connection between money and mental health by numerous researchers, mental health providers, and financial institutions.
To highlight Asian & Pacific Islanders’ history with mental health in 2021 Dr. Kevin Nadal wrote in Psychology Today: “AAPIs had already struggled with mental health issues prior to these pandemics. For example, previous research has revealed Native Hawaiians and Samoans experience myriad behavioral health concerns, like alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide. Micronesian boys have the highest prevalence of suicide and are 11 times more likely than Micronesian girls to die by suicide. Asian Americans (especially immigrants) and Pacific Islanders underutilize mental health treatment despite reporting psychological symptoms, with underutilization rates higher than other racial groups.”
Mental health is defined as “a person’s condition regarding their psychological and emotional wellbeing.” Some emotional disruptors are anxiety, depression, panic, guilt and shame. Money issues for working individuals can trigger one or all of these emotions. A layer of familial and ancestral history from peoples from colonized or oppressed societies compounds the potential pressure and repeated negative patterns.
An individual’s experience with money is much more than how much money is made and spent. A person’s money experience is a complex and multi-layered relationship that touches every part of an individual’s life.
A couple of the big money triggers are debt and the inability to move past living paycheck to paycheck. People who live with mental health challenges are more likely to be in debt and for larger amounts. This could be for contributing factors such as struggling to work consistently, not being able to hold a full-time position, or not being able to manage the existing debt. If an individual can only hold on to a part-time job, there is a higher potential for living paycheck to paycheck. Individuals working towards regulating their mental health while struggling to pay their bills will likely struggle with overwhelming feelings of shame which, in the worst cases, can lead to suicidal ideation.
Those who experience daily money stressors have a higher potential of creating a trauma trigger. Individuals who allow time to continue to pass without intervention will have more and more negative money situations such as going further into debt, filing for bankruptcy, or even losing a home.
How can this cycle be broken?
Start with moving past money taboos. It has been a longstanding social norm that talking about money is frowned upon. It is important to normalize conversations about how money works, as well as make safe spaces for dialogues about how individuals feel about their relationship with money available.
Work on cultivating a healthy mindset around money. This mindset can consist of daily activations of gratitude for what is going well in life, the forgiveness of self for past money choices and related setbacks. Focus on how to make positive future financial progress. Adopting the mantra from Viki Robinson’s book Your Money or Your Life,“No shame, no blame.” is also a powerful money mindset tool. The stronger the money mindset, the stronger the emotional resilience during tough financial times. `
Don’t go through it alone! Reach out to professionals who can help navigate the financial world and make it more relatable to personal situations. Open up to working with a guide or coach that can work on the deeper emotional issues for lasting change and transformation regarding finances, and even fulfillment.
Build financial self-confidence by taking small steps forward in areas related to money. Taking one step at a time and making progress in budgeting and saving is a great way to start feeling better about money. Continued education around money is a powerful way to create a strong foundation that equally benefits an individual’s material and mental relationship with money.
Jennifer Navarro-Marroquin, is Founder of Claiming Prosperity.