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Mental Health and Income: Supporting Ourselves Through Financial Stress

January 12, 2022
3 minutes
Lifestyle Health & Wellness
Mental health

Winter can be an especially trying time for people. The days are darker, the weather is colder, and as the holidays transition into tax season, money stressors can creep in. While money isn’t everything, it can certainly impact our mental health and well being. 

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We asked our members about their relationship with financial stress and mental wellness, and an astounding 123,800 answered us in just a month’s time.

Grounded in principles of the social determinants of health, our findings demonstrate the role our financial wellness has played in our wellbeing all along: When financial stress is high, mental health wellness can be low. 

Our findings also highlight how the structural barriers that create income inequities are the same ones that make mental and physical well being harder to reach for people with lower incomes. 

While not all of these systems can change overnight, it’s important to understand what is within our control to support ourselves through financial stress.

Here’s what we heard from our members

Anxiety and stress: All respondents reported feeling some level of anxiety and stress about their personal finances, but these feelings were experienced more severely in groups living with lower incomes (below $35,000 per year).

Basic needs: The ability to meet basic needs was directly correlated with income. People living with lower incomes were less likely to be able to meet their needs, and more than 60% of respondents said their access to medical care had been limited in the last year.

Mental vs. physical health: Compared to areas like physical health, participants reported lower feelings of wellness in their relationships and in their mental health. This was felt particularly strongly among those living with lower incomes.

How people’s lives were most impacted by anxiety and depression: Tiredness and trouble sleeping were more commonly reported than any other symptoms of depression. Anxiety manifested most as restlessness, feeling afraid, and uncontrollable worry.

What we can do in the face of inequities

Shedding light on where inequities lie can help us be mindful of where our greatest needs are as a community and foster greater support.

We know that many of these inequities are centuries in the making, and while these systems might be outside of our personal control, there are things we can do to foster our own financial wellness and nurture our mental health along the way. 

As we begin the new year, there are things we can do to care for our mental health and financial wellness to set us up for a healthier and happier 2022.

Support is available.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for people facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

The CDC offers free and confidential resources to help people connect with a skilled, trained mental health professional.

Monitor your health behaviors and earn cash

Using the Evidation app can help you engage and monitor your health in a new way. Because we believe that you should be paid for data that you share, our app supports the mindful monitoring of health experiences and activities, with the added bonus of financial reward. 

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