How far linked are mental health and financial security?
Your financial security could be impacting your mental health. For example, if you don’t have enough money or struggle to pay your bills, you may experience heightened stress and anxiety levels, which can all have a detrimental effect on your mental health.
Research from True Potential Investor’s Tackling The Savings Gap Consumer Savings and Debt Data Q3 2017 report shows that a third of UK households worry about money each day. It was also found that women are more prone to financial worries, with 38.7% worrying daily compared to 25.8% of men.
Perhaps surprisingly, the research also showed that those who were most employed — i.e those who had a full-time career as well as an additional side-line to generate cash — worried most frequently about their finances. 45% of this group admitted to doing so, potentially highlighting that their financial struggles have led to them seeking additional income.
The assumption that employment leads to financial security is widespread in society, although as recent media coverage has shown, it isn’t always true. Nurses and teachers are just two of the professions who are reportedly experiencing financial struggles — so to what extent are they being impacted?
According to a study by Leeds Beckett University, as reported by The Independent, there has been a 40% increase in applications from teachers to the UK’s main education support charity for financial support for housing and transport.
This could be because of the rising cost of living and falling teacher salaries. Salaries have reduced by more than a tenth over the past 10 years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found.
But what impact is this growing financial pressure having on the mental health of Britain’s teachers. 54% of teachers cited poor mental health and 81% said that it had had a negative impact on the pupil-teacher relationship.
In 2016, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) supported over 700 nurses and healthcare assistants with RCN Foundation hardship grants. These grants had an average worth of £500 and were issued to support full-time hospital staff when covering essential costs, including food, travel, rent and their mortgages.
The total amount given out was in excess of £250,000, despite just over a fifth of this figure (£56,000) being awarded 10 years ago. This could illustrate how the financial pressure on nurses and healthcare assistants is mounting.
Further findings from the RCN support this, with a survey from November 2017 finding that 40% of nurses have lost sleep over their finances. What’s more, 70% say they are worse off financially now than they were five years ago. Nearly a quarter had topped up their income by taking a second job.
The rest of the UK workforce
Is the above a problem that’s exclusive to teachers and nurses, or does it extend to the rest of the UK’s employees? The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has found that 25% of employees believe their own financial worries have hindered their performance in the role. Of these, 30% were employed in the public sector.
With financial worries present across the majority of Britain’s workforce, it’s clear that more needs to be done to support employees’ needs through proper financial support, awareness and education.
True Potential LLP, a provider of personal pensions, stocks and shares ISAs and general investment accounts, has partnered with The Open University to establish the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance (PUFin), which offers a number of free finance courses.