What To Do When Money Worries are Making You Lonely This year Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 is centred on the theme of loneliness with the Mental Health Foundation discovering that 1 in 4 adults in the UK feel lonely some or all of the time. There is a clear correlation between poor mental health and money struggles, as individuals often feel isolated from their peers due to low self-esteem and not being able to participate in activities. This article shall explain the various reasons why financial concerns can cause feelings of loneliness, as well as explore the different actions you can take to manage loneliness when you are worried about money. How Money Issues Can Cause You to Feel Lonely While financial worries have affected everyone over the course of the last few years, for those living with a mental health condition this has been an extremely challenging time. Money struggles can make individuals feel lonely due to feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment. Many do not want to open up about their concerns, as they do not want to be placed in a vulnerable position or made to feel judged about their financial difficulties. Research carried out by the Money Advice Service has found that nearly half of people in debt did not want to discuss their worries with family and friends, as they did not want to burden them. Often individuals will distance themselves from loved ones for fear of not being able to engage in activities due to lack of money, which in turn results in feelings of loneliness and often depression. Not being able to afford essentials or have disposal income to spend on leisure, food and holidays can compound these feelings of loneliness. Pandemic & Cost of Living Crisis With mental health issues already at an all-time high the last few years have placed a large strain on people’s mental health, with both the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis exacerbating individuals current money worries. Research from the Money and Pensions Service have found that out of a study of 5,200 adults in the UK, 60% said that the pandemic had contributed to their financial concerns. For many the recent increased cost of energy is making it a struggle to pay the bills and the lack of disposable income available, is resulting in people isolating themselves and feeling anxious. According to research obtained by University College London the stress of the cost-of-living crisis has resulted in more than 51% of adults feeling like they have less control over their mental health. Economic hardship can have extreme effects on mental wellbeing with heightened anxiety, increased hormone activity and negative thoughts such as not feeling good enough and low self-esteem. Tips on How to Get Help Often the initial step of asking for help can be the hardest step to take, but there is a lot of assistance out there that can help to relieve the burden of both financial difficulties and loneliness. Reach Out to Friends & Family Start by reaching out to friends and family, as this will provide you with emotional relief and allow you to see the situation from another person’s perspective. However, if you do not feel comfortable discussing your financial affairs with a loved one, you may prefer to speak with a professional adviser. Sharing your concerns with another individual will help to alleviate your worries and in turn make you feel less alone. Reach out to services that can help The Mental Health and Money Advice Service The MHMAS can perform benefit checks, as there are welfare benefits available which you may be entitled to. For example, if you have a health condition that impacts your ability to work you may be entitled to claim Employment Support Allowance, Personal Independence payment or if you are in one of the pilot areas, Adult Disability Payment There are a wide range of welfare benefits available that can help to supplement those on low incomes, or assist in the period between finding employment. You also may be eligible for different grants. You may be able to apply for a crisis grant if you are experiencing an emergency or find yourself in a situation that you cannot pay your expenses. They can cover a range of different situations and can be used for paying living expenses such as food, rent and travel costs. We can help advise on all these areas, together with any debt issues and provide advocacy and representation. Community Care Grant If you are on a low income and aged over 16, then you may qualify for a community care grant. A community care grant can assist if you are experiencing pressure and need help to keep a settled home. There are also an array of charitable grants out there which you may be entitled to, find out more at https://funding.scot/ Home Heating Support Fund SGN has teamed up with Support in Mind Scotland and Mental Health UK to offer energy advice to vulnerable people. The partnership comes at the height of the energy crisis and seeks to offer help to those whose mental health is affected by rising energy costs. Support in Mind Scotland:- SiMS offers assistance to empower and support individuals affected with mental health, through the provision of information, peer support, group activities, campaigning, and education. SiMS also aims to improve people’s quality of life by fighting for people’s rights and working to combat the stigma that is often faced by those living with a mental health condition. SiMS advisors provide an informative information service and can check benefit entitlement and search for any relevant grants an individual may qualify for. Clic Peer Support – Mental Health UK Clic is an online community created by Mental Health UK that has been designed to support individuals to talk about their mental health with likeminded users. It is an excellent resource, as it provides a safe platform for individuals across the UK to share their experiences and support one another. Turn2Us Turn2Us is a charity that offers support to people experiencing financial hardship with many reaching out to the service during the current cost of living crisis. The charity provides information on the different options that are available for individual living circumstances and is an excellent resource in finding available grants. Download Free Resources Budget Planner: access this free budget planner to help you to manage your finances better and prioritise debts and bills. Organising your finances can allow you to understand your cashflow and see the essential items that you should be prioritising each month such as: Food Energy Bills Rent / Mortgage Council Tax Mental Health & Money Toolkit: you can download the free mental health and money toolkit which is an excellent way to help you manage your mental and financial health.