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Understanding Financial Stress and Its Impact on Mental Health in California

The Connection Between Financial Stress and Mental Health

Worrying about money is a common source of stress for most people. The American Psychological Association (APA) reported that 72% of adults reported feeling stressed about money at least some time, and 22% said they experienced extreme financial stress. People will often put their healthcare needs on hold because of financial concerns. Financial stress is the emotional tension felt specifically related to money. While anyone can experience financial stress, it is most common in low-income households.

Any chronic stress can impact the body and mind, and financial stress is no different. Studies have found a strong relationship between financial worries and psychological distress. Financial stress can become severe enough to negatively impact your mental health, such as experiencing anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from friends and family. A 2022 study found that financial stress positively correlates with depression, especially among low socioeconomic groups.

Contact BeWellLine by calling our help center at 866-349-0854 to learn more about using virtual mental health services.

When we worry and stress, the body perceives that as danger and releases chemicals that trigger stress hormones, which impact areas of our brain. Over time, this stress response can wear us mentally and physically, increasing the risk of developing mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. Some signs that financial problems are affecting your health include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling irritable, fearful, or experiencing mood swings
  • Arguing with loved ones about money
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling guilty when spending money
  • Delaying needed health care because of the cost

Like any source of overwhelming stress, financial problems can lead to physical and mental health issues, relationships, and overall quality of life. However, no matter how hopeless you feel, there is help available. Tackling money problems head-on and reaching out for mental health support can help ease your stress and its impact on mental health.

Common Financial Problems Faced by Families

Some of the most common causes of stress from financial problems faced by families include:

  • Paying mortgage or rent: With the cost of living increasing daily, paying your rent and mortgage is becoming more complex. The stress of potentially losing your home, moving, or becoming homeless can lead to high stress and anxiety levels.
  • Lack of stable income: While this is primarily true for independent contractors or self-employed individuals, many stress about losing their jobs and not having enough savings to keep them afloat while they look for a new one.
  • Paying for childcare needs: Childcare costs are a big financial problem in family stress. It can be quite expensive to pay for daycare and preschool, leaving many families unable to put money into savings for emergencies, retirement, or even their kids' college fund.
  • Not having enough money for emergencies: With high costs of living and low-paying jobs, it can be difficult to put money into savings, leaving families stressed, anxious, and depressed about what they will do in the event of an emergency.
  • Unable to retire: Individuals who live paycheck to paycheck cannot put enough into saving for retirement. They can worry about what they will be able to pay for living expenses once they cannot work or if they can even retire.

Financial Challenges for Students and Their Mental Health

Young adults will pursue higher education to make a good living and avoid facing a potential financial crisis. Unfortunately, the current financial problems students struggle with can make it harder to earn a degree and lead to stress, anxiety, and depression as well. Students worry about how to pay for tuition and their living expenses. Going to school full-time leaves very little time for having a well-paying job. Financial challenges for students can include struggling to pay necessities like rent and food as well. They can feel burnout from financial stress, demands of school, and overworking themselves if they also have a job. Students who struggle with their mental health because of financial stress are at risk for lower grades, dropping out, and overall lower quality of life.

Money Management for Teens

Financial literacy and money management skills are critical for teens. Learning these lessons early in life can make them independent and successful as they go off to college and the real world on their own. Some money management for teen tips include:

  • Figure out needs vs. wants: Learning the difference between needs and wants is the foundation for financial literacy. Needs include housing, food, and health insurance. Knowing the difference can help you budget correctly and realize what is important so you can offset some spending to put into savings.
  • Live below your means: While it's tempting to build a budget based on your paycheck, that can lead to more financial stress. Living below your means will help you save more money.
  • Set savings goals: When setting savings goals, break them down into smaller steps, such as by month. For example, if you want to have $1000 in savings by the end of the year, set aside $84 per month as part of your budget to make that goal a reality.
Contact BeWellLine by calling our help center at 866-349-0854 to learn more about using virtual mental health services.

Overcoming Financial Stress: Practical Solutions

Fixing your financial problems won't happen overnight, but you can start planning and taking steps now for success. Financial stress is not just a result of your financial crisis; you can ease some of the anxiety and worry by taking care of yourself or talking to a mental health professional. Here are some tips for overcoming financial stress signs:

  • Create and stick to a budget: Make a list of your needs and how much they cost. Take steps to see what unnecessary costs you have or where you are spending too much so you can reduce those. Make a list of debts and how much you need to get out of those. This step can help you begin putting more money into savings.
  • Try some problem-solving strategies: These can include creating other streams of income, reading financial literacy books, acquiring skills that can get you a higher salary, and talking to a financial planner.
  • Engage in self-care: It is important to manage stress through healthy lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating well, avoiding drugs and alcohol, engaging in activities you enjoy, connecting with others, and meditating.
  • Reach out for support: If you have tried other tactics and still feel anxious or depressed, it is important to reach out for professional support. Therapists, counselors, and helplines are available to help you through difficult times and provide effective coping skills for managing stress.

Seeking Help: Free Emotional Support Chat and Phone Line for California Residents

Struggling with financial stress or a financial crisis can leave very little extra in your budget for paying for professional mental health services. Luckily, California has many options for free emotional support, chat, and phone lines for residents struggling with financial stress and mental health issues. BeWellLine is a free emotional support line with trained peer support specialists who can help through financial stress signs. Services are available 24/7 by calling 866-349-0854. You will be connected within minutes to compassionate, knowledgeable peer support counselors who can offer advice, coping skills, and resources for managing financial stress and mental health concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Stress and Mental Health

How does financial stress impact mental health?

Similar to other sources of chronic stress, financial stress can impact mental health, leading to issues like anxiety and depression. Individuals can experience symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, uncontrollable worrying thoughts, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, fatigue, irritability, mood swings, and withdrawal from others.

What are common financial problems faced by families?

Financial stress is most often seen in families with lower income; however, anyone is at risk of experiencing it. Some of the most common financial problems faced by families include worrying about paying their rent or mortgage, lack of stable income, costs of childcare, and not having enough savings for emergencies, college funds, or retirement.

How can financial stress affect students' mental health?

Financial challenges for students include paying for tuition and their living expenses. These challenges can lead to financial stress and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, which can impact academic performance and leave them at risk for higher dropout rates.

How can teens manage money to prevent future financial stress?

Learning financial literacy and money management skills at a young age can set teens up to become independent and decrease their risk for financial stress. Some ways teens can manage their money is by creating a budget based on needs versus wants, living below their means to be able to save money, and setting saving goals so they know how much they need to put apart each month to have what they need.

What are some solutions to overcome financial stress?

Solutions to financial stress are not just based on fixing your financial problems; it is also important to take care of yourself. Some ways to fix your financial problems are by creating and sticking to a budget, creating other streams of income, acquiring skills to get a higher-paying job, reading financial literacy books, and talking to a financial planner. You can also ease financial stress by ensuring you take care of yourself through healthy lifestyle changes such as eating well, exercising, meditating, avoiding drugs and alcohol, engaging in activities you enjoy, and connecting with others. If you still feel anxious about your financial problems after trying other tactics, it is important to reach out for help from professional mental health services such as therapists, counselors, and emotional support lines.

How can I access the free emotional support chat and phone line in California?

Free emotional-support chat and phone line in California is available through BeWellLine by calling 866-349-6597. BeWellLine gives California residents access to free peer support services that can help them through financial stress and mental health issues. Peer support counselors can provide emotional support, advice, effective coping skills, and resources for managing financial stress and mental health issues.

What types of mental health issues can arise from financial stress?

A number of studies have found a link between financial stress and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. All types of chronic stress can lead to developing these mental health disorders and triggering other types like bipolar disorder in those who are predisposed.

What resources are available to California residents facing financial stress?

California residents can access free emotional support lines like BeWellLine to help them through financial stress. There are several programs and resources also available to help through financial hardship, such as:

  • Orange County Financial Assistance: Provides economic support programs to aid low-income adults and families facing financial difficulties and receive guidance towards self-sufficiency.
  • Institute on Aging: Provides helpful financial resources for seniors and their families to meet necessary living expenses, caregiver support, and home utility relief.

California Utilities Financial Assistances, Savings, and DiscountsProvides resources for reducing utility bills, including electrical, gas, telecommunication, and water bills, including receiving discounts and savings.

Contact BeWellLine by calling our help center at 866-349-0854 to learn more about using virtual mental health services.

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