Mental Health: ‘January disease’, financial stress and mental health

Improve your accountability concerning finances

Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a meaningful contribution to their community.

Mental health is a critical component of individual, family, community and national wellbeing and prosperity.

While the festive season is a wonderful time of celebration, the aftermath of excessive end of year spending together with the pressure of new year expenses can take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing.

How does ‘January disease’ affect our mental health?

Financial pressure at the beginning of the year from debt, loss of income, low income, unexpected expenses or money mismanagement can result in:

  • Excessive worry and fear about finances and financial instability
  • Self-criticism, guilt about spending habits and ability to earn enough money
  • Low self-confidence and a sense of inferiority when others seem to be better off financially than yourself
  • A sense of helplessness and hopelessness about one’s future due to current financial circumstances
  • Turning to alcohol and substance use to try and cope with the financial pressure
  • Difficulty sleeping as worry about money keeps us awake
  • Social isolation and breakdown of social support systems as financial pressures affect our relationships

Can mental health problems affect my ability to manage my finances?

Common mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance use can result in difficulties thinking clearly, focusing, concentrating and working effectively and earn an income.

Mental health challenges can also affect our relationships with work supervisors, co-workers, clients and business stakeholders ultimately affecting our capacity to earn an income.

When we aren’t thinking effectively we will struggle to make sound financial decisions, control our impulsive spending behaviour.

Mental health problems may affect our motivation, energy levels and drive which can hinder our ability to work effectively and productively.

The misuse of alcohol and substances can severely affect employability or ability to run a business effectively.

Having a mental health challenge can result in financial strain and those with severe or chronic mental health need financial protection through:

  1. Sufficient mental health services cover on medical insurance plans to allow for appropriate care and prevent financial ruin
  2. Reasonable accommodations such as flexible work hours during periods of mental ill health and during recovery from mental illness
  3. Adequate resourcing of state mental health facilities which cater for the majority of the population
  4. Investing in sufficient support allowances/ disability allowances particularly for those with chronic mental health conditions who may not be able to return to full time work

Mental health tools to prevent or cope with ‘January disease’?

  1. Improve your self-awareness about spending habits, triggers for money mismanagement
  2. Improve your accountability concerning finances
  3. Take responsibility for one’s money mismanagement
  4. Strive for healthy self-talk, once you have mismanaged your funds, denigrating yourself will not help resolve situation
  5. Build a strong relationships and social support networks that can help you in hard times
  6. Learn to be authentic and ‘real’ about your financial situation and reach out for help to better manage your funds, address excessive debt and other financial challenges
  7. Reach out for help for any mental health challenges that may be affecting your ability to work and earn an income or manage funds effectively

If you think that you or someone that you know may be struggling with a mental health challenge, please contact your nearest health care provider and get help.

*Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse is a consultant psychiatrist. Feedback  WhatsApp: +263714987729

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