By Dr. Samantha Rodman, Clinical Psychologist
It is fashionable to believe that finances shouldn’t have much of an impact on your mental health. According to the media, mental health should be equivalent across various socioeconomic classes. However, when you are struggling financially, it can have a very real effect on your mental and emotional functioning.
Here are some key ways that mental health can be dramatically impacted by your financial situation.
Knowing that there is no financial “safety net” in place in case of an emergency is extremely stressful.
While others may have an emergency fund in case they get laid off from work or need emergency car repairs, for example, you may not have this luxury. This means that while others can treat most situations as “not a matter of life or death,” you may not feel the same.
Other people may be able to pay for extra things to help make their lives easier, but if you can’t afford to do so, then these daily stressors mount endlessly.
For instance, while someone with more disposable income could pay for a bottle of water or get lunch out, you have to plan ahead to have your lunch packed. This, of course, means you need to remember to pack the lunch and to get groceries in the first place. Over time, all of these stressors build up and life feels more burdensome.
Money greases the wheels of life and allows problems to be more easily resolved.
While someone else may be able to pay to get their broken washer and dryer repaired, for instance, you may have to wait for months. During this wait, doing the laundry turns into a stressor that takes up an inordinate amount of time and energy.
In today’s materialistic culture, it is hard to avoid being bombarded by images of clothes, accessories, vacations, and other expensive trappings of wealth.
When you are unable to afford these sorts of luxuries, you can feel inadequate or that you don’t fit into our materialist society. This can contribute to feelings of depression and low self-esteem.
While everyone struggles with some version of anxiety about the future, this can be much worse when you are struggling with financial insecurity and uncertainty.
Your life choices are likely limited by your financial situation, in terms of job options, school options, and potential travel or leisure activities. Instead of looking forward to the future, people who face financial instability may feel an overwhelming sense of stress and fear.
If you are struggling with your financial situation and it is significantly impacting your mental health, don’t lose hope. There are many options for low-cost, high quality health care.
Of course, Talkspace is one option. Another is university mental health clinics, where many psychologists do their training. Since you’re seeing a PhD student (under close supervision), fees can be nominal. There are also many low cost clinics, and even pro-bono (free) options, as well as utilizing your insurance and seeing which providers are paneled in your area.
Working with a therapist can help you deal with the issues noted above, and a therapist can also help you figure out ways to work on growing more financially stable in the future. Everyone deserves to feel secure and happy, no matter their financial situation.
Originally published on Talkspace.
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