The Link between Money and Mental Health

The week of 9 – 15 May marks Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and this year, the focus is on loneliness and the devastating impact it can have on people up and down the country.

In light of this, Stephen Holliday, CEO and Founder of Level, delves into the connection between money and mental health.

 

At Level, we have long understood that money worries and mental health are inextricably linked. But while physical and mental health strategies are firmly at the top of the agenda, financial wellbeing has somewhat lagged.

We are currently in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, that has left many wondering how they will make ends meet. It is only natural that a person’s mental health might suffer, with the added strain of rising fuel, mortgage and food bills.

Though it is an improving picture, Brits have long had a ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality when it comes to money, in some way contributing to the loneliness that is under the spotlight during Mental Health Awareness Week 2022.

But what are the practical measures that employers can take to help their staff manage their money better and, in turn, help ease a considerable burden on their mental health?

Establishing a savings culture is perhaps the clearest way that businesses can support their workforce. The Money & Pensions Service, in its UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, states that “a financially healthy nation is good for individuals, businesses and the economy”. To highlight this, establishing an environment where people can save more is one of the five key pillars of the strategy.

Establishing a savings culture is perhaps the clearest way that businesses can support their workforce.

But as we set out before, businesses have been slower to adopt financial well-being solutions than physical or mental health. There are certainly reasons behind this: subsidised gym memberships or cycle to work schemes are commonplace because the impact on staff is measurable – unlike financial health, which is far less tangible.

Employers have been turning to content (such as advice and top tips), often shared on an intranet or other means of internal communication, to help their staff manage their money. This piecemeal approach does little to move the needle.

We have seen first-hand the real impact that salary-linked savings schemes are having on workers across the UK, helping them build a buffer to cope with unexpected bills, but also times of economic hardship, the likes of which we are currently experiencing.

As a result, employers must step up to their responsibility and offer the sorts of services that make it easy for their staff to set money aside, much like with auto-enrolment pension schemes. This is a measurable benefit to the staff, but also to the business. Solutions that support financial wellbeing are proven to boost attraction and retention. Better still, they are simple to put in place for both the employee and employer, meaning a frictionless experience for both parties.

We are calling upon all employers to take these simple steps to support their workforce. Money problems can be a cause of great loneliness for many. Employers must recognise the role they play.

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