Kate Langston, External Affairs Officer, Money and Mental Health

Talking about my generation: We’re looking for more young people to share their stories with us

10 September 2018

Autumn is traditionally a time for new beginnings. It’s a feeling of anticipation that’s instilled in us from our earliest days at school. For a large group of young people, this autumn marks a significant milestone. Rather than return to the classroom, they will have started their first term at university or made their entry into the world of work.

This can be an exciting time, where we get to enjoy new freedoms and a greater sense of independence. But it can also be a risky time, particularly for our mental and financial wellbeing, as we are faced with new pressures and a raft of new financial responsibilities. It is perhaps fitting then, that the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is young people.

Here at Money and Mental Health, we are working hard to make sure people struggling with their mental health get the support they need to protect themselves from financial harm. Key to this is hearing from the people who have direct experience of these issues, through our online Research CommunityHowever, we currently don’t hear enough from young people, and particularly young men, about the difficulties they are facing. If this sounds like something you can help us with, read on to find out how you can get involved…

The challenge

Despite recent efforts to tackle the stigma, we still find it hard as a society to talk about our mental health. While we have seen a significant shift in public attitudes, too many people continue to encounter ignorance and prejudice when they disclose that they, or someone they know, has experienced mental health problems.

We find it harder still to talk about mental health problems and debt. Money and personal finances remain something of a taboo subject, and the notion of debt is too often linked with feelings of failure and shame.

Continuously worrying about how bills would be paid… Sometimes I didn’t have enough money to put fuel in the car to get to work… I felt terrible shame about my situation and could not discuss [it].”

The resulting lack of awareness and understanding of the extent to which mental illness can impact a person’s financial situation – and vice versa – is hugely damaging. Too many people end up suffering in silence rather than admit they are struggling, or fail to get the support they need when they do speak up.

You can be the solution

It is exactly these kinds of issues that Money and Mental Health was founded to address. We undertake research into the link between mental health problems and financial difficulty, to help us develop practical, meaningful solutions that will help to break this link.

But we know that in order for these solutions to be truly effective, it is vital that we listen to the views of people who have direct experience of these issues. That is where our Research Community comes in.

This 5,000-strong online network of Experts by Experience have shared their stories with us and taken part surveys and focus groups to shape our research. By speaking out, they have helped us understand the challenges they face across a wide range of situations, such as difficulties accessing essential services, problem gambling and impulsive spending.

“It’s great to be involved with an organisation that achieves real change. It’s been really rewarding to be able to share my personal experiences and directly influence Money and Mental Health’s work, which in turn has helped shape national policies.”

Our members have also played an active role in our campaigns, taking part in media appearances and speaking at our events. This has helped us bring about some significant changes, including a commitment from the government to extend its debt relief scheme to people in mental health crisis, and the introduction of gambling blocks on credit cards.

Join us today

We’re always looking for new members to join our Research Community, and want to make sure we’re hearing from people of all ages and communities. So if you want this autumn to mark another new beginning, find out how to sign up here.