Money and Mental Health reveals
the six forms of crisis spending



basicToday the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute launch their first major policy initiative, In Control. The charity, founded by Martin Lewis, will now start an in-depth consultation, bringing together the financial services and retail industries to find better ways to support people with mental health problems to regulate their spending.

New research from Money and Mental Health reveals for the first time six different ways our mental health affects our spending:

1. Manic spending during a high or period of mania

2. Nihilistic spending where the transaction, or life itself, is considered meaningless

3. Comfort spending to boost low mood

4. Social value spending to boost status or self-worth by giving money or gifts to others

5. Impulsive spending where we can’t attribute any purpose to the transaction

6. Addictive spending to feed an addiction, like alcohol or gambling

Money and Mental Health found that:

  • 93% of people with mental health problems spend more when they’re unwell*
  • 88% said they were at least two months behind in paying bills*
  • 80% said online shopping was particularly hard to resist** and
  • 40% found buying goods on installments from mail order catalogues the most compelling form of credit (40%)** by far the most popular option – with over half of respondents (53%) saying that they have bought goods on installment, hire purchase or credit sale agreement in the last twelve months alone.*

Commenting, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, Founder and Chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said:


“The relationship between money and mental health is toxic. Every day I hear from people who struggle to control their spending in periods of poor mental health.”


While there is general demand from consumers for everything to get faster and easier – including shopping and accessing credit, for those with mental health conditions that make them prone to crisis spending this can be dangerous.  Money and Mental Health is looking at policy solutions to add ‘friction’ to the system – to try and help impulse control. 

“We’ve already looked at mechanisms for self-restricting access to future credit. Now we’re adding potential spending controls too such as a 24-hour window to review high-cost purchases, setting daily spending limits, or being able to involve a trusted friend in managing your finances.”


Polly Mackenzie, Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute added:


“Increased spending is a symptom of a number of mental health problems, but that doesn’t mean that those living with them should be written off to a life of financial difficulty.

Today we invite retailers and those working in financial services and mental health to join the conversation, to respond to our ideas and to show their commitment to a retail and financial environment that helps people to stay in control.”


To read the report and respond to the consultation, visit




Notes to Editors

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute was set up by Martin Lewis in spring 2016, registered charity number 1166493.

It will conduct research and develop policies for banks, lenders, regulators, the health service and government to help people with mental health problems protect themselves from financial difficulties and get out of debt.

Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert, is an award-winning campaigning broadcaster, newspaper columnist and author. He founded in 2003 for £100 and remains its full-time Editor-in- Chief. It is now the UK’s biggest money site, with more than 14 million monthly users. Martin has his own prime-time ITV programme – The Martin Lewis Money Show – and is resident expert on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Consumer Panel, among others.

Polly Mackenzie is the Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. She was previously Director of Policy for the Deputy Prime Minister, working in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office, from 2010-2015.

Money and Mental Health conducted two surveys

  • The first was conducted online over five weeks, 4th March – 15th April 2016 and received 5,413 valid responses, all self-identified as having experience of a mental health problem. Statics from this survey are marked *.
  • The second survey was a more in-depth look at the issue of ‘crisis spending’ and was conducted online 1st – 5th July 2016 with members of the Money and Mental Health Experts by Experience Panel. This received 257 valid responses, all self-identified as having experience of increased spending as a result of their mental health. Statistics from this survey are marked **.