THE FACTS What you need to know

Mental health and money problems are often intricately linked. Our research shows that in England alone over 1.5 million people are experiencing both problem debt and mental health problems.

Read a summary of the key facts and figures below, or download our money and mental health factsheet to find out more.

 

People with problem debt are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems

People with mental health problems are also more likely to be in problem debt

diagram illustrating the relationship between mental health problems and debt

How does being in financial difficulty affect your mental health?

  • Financial difficulties are a common cause of stress and anxiety. Stigma around debt can mean that people struggle to ask for help and may become isolated. The impact on people’s mental health can be particularly severe if they resort to cutting back on essentials, such as heating and eating, or if creditors are aggressive or insensitive when collecting debts.
  • Financial difficulty drastically reduces recovery rates for common mental health conditions. People with depression and problem debt are 4.2 times more likely to still have depression 18 months later than people without financial difficulty.
  • People in problem debt are three times as likely to have thought about suicide in the past year. There is rarely one single factor that drives people to take their own life. Instead, typically, a range of social issues, life events, cognitive and personality factors are combined. However, there is a strong link between problem debt and suicide, and more than 100,000 people in England attempt suicide while in problem debt each year.

 

How does having a mental health problem affect your income?

  • The income gap for those with mental health problems is significant. People with anxiety and depression have a median gross annual income of £8,400 less than that of people without those conditions.
  • Less than half of people with mental health problems in the UK were in employment in 2018/19 compared to four in five of those without mental health problems (48% vs 79%). When in work, people with mental health problems are more likely to work part-time (37% vs 24%), and are overrepresented in low paying roles. More than one in three (37%) of those in work who have a mental health problem are in the three lowest-paid occupational groups, in contrast to one in four (26%) of those who have not had mental health problems.
  • People with mental health problems are more likely to receive benefits, which provide a low level of financial support. A third of Housing Benefit claimants (35%) and nearly half (47%) of adults aged 16-64 in receipt of some kind of out-of-work benefit have a common mental disorder, such as depression or generalised anxiety disorder. This rises to two thirds (66%) of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a benefit aimed at those unable to work due to poor health or disability.
  • Acute episodes of mental health problems can disrupt incomes too. People can struggle to attend work, maintain their benefit claims, or keep on top of managing their money. In England in 2018, 23,000 people were struggling with problem debt whilst in hospital for their mental health, with thousands more managing debt in the care of a crisis team in the community.

 

How does having a mental health problem affect your expenditure and ability to save?

 

Having a mental health problem can affect your ability to access essential services and manage your finances

 

Support services have a key role in tackling financial difficulties for people with mental health problems