Money is the number one source of stress in 1 out of 3 people according to the Financial Psychology Institute. Research further shows that financial issues and mental health are often inter-linked. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, work productively and make a contribution to the community.
Contributing to the discussion during a webinar session organized by dfcu Bank for its Investment customers, Jennifer Male, a Health Care Manager at Minet Group said that; oftentimes, financial stress has negative effects on both our physical and mental health leading to a higher risk of mortality, anxiety and depression and relationship conflicts. “Poor mental health makes managing money harder, and worrying about money makes your mental health worse. It can start to feel like a vicious cycle,” she remarked.
Mind and body make up the human being. The cognitive function (Mind) – deals with our ability to perceive, think, make decisions and solve problems. The state of our mental wellbeing is influenced by our environment, financial security, health, work/learning, family, security, leisure and social participation.
“Most often, money influences mood patterns. Certain situations can trigger feelings of anxiety and panic for example talking to your bank, receiving a bank statement, opening a benefits assessment. Excessive spending during excitement and happiness, anger and depression in times of scarcity and calmness during financial planning sessions,” revealed Male.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Uganda Police registered over 3000 Domestic Violence cases, the number one issue being the financial stress posed by the Covid-19 challenges. This also explains why when people become bankrupt, there is always a tendency to turn to suicidal behavior which is not healthy. Debt leads to anxiety, stress, and depression as the victims go into isolation and encounter loneliness.
“How you handle money depends on your cognitive function. Financial stress leads to impaired decision making, which leads to poor mental health,” she submitted.
Male cautioned the members to work on themselves to avoid financial pitfalls. “Whatever the bank is doing for you is not a quick fix, it’s a journey that you have to walk with the bank. You as an individual have a role to play.”
At an individual level, sorting out things might feel like an overwhelming task and lots of things may be out of your control. But try taking one step at a time; Understand your money and mood patterns, organize your finances, avoid overspending when unwell, manage anxiety around bills and assessments, share your worries, look after your wellbeing and find professional money advice and support. dfcu Bank has personal financial advisors who can help with the last bit.
Miranda B. Musoke, Head of Personal Banking at dfcu Bank, swiftly advised the members on how they can cope in these times.
“It’s important to stick to the budget, keeping track of spending and meeting all financial obligations. All these are important to both individuals and clubs. Things like sticking to a budget, encourage openness – leadership should make it ok to discuss financial concerns, as a bank, we are willing to support our investment clubs in personal finance management to guide them through this time,” she advised.
She also encouraged clubs to be mindful of the situation people are going through – is the club willing to extend loans to members to help them cope through this time? At what interest rates? Are they offering payment holidays? Are you making payment plans for members who are unable to meet their financial obligation as before?
Communication is important so that members get to know what is available to help them financially – and also external resources they can take advantage of.