Financial hardship and mental health issues can often feed into each other. A setback with money can lead to emotional disturbance which makes it harder to pay off debts or secure employment, causing further anguish.
It is important to break this vicious cycle. If you are facing a hardship, it can be difficult to justify the cost of therapy. However, a skilled counselor can provide an objective outsider’s perspective to help you determine what is going on inside your head and what changes you can make to get your feet back on steady ground.
Drowning in debt
Personal debt affects millions of Americans. The COVID pandemic exacerbated the problem as many families faced unemployment and under-employment.
People who struggle with mounting credit card bills, who dodge collections agencies, and who see their loan repayments stacking up often feel anxious and helpless. A good financial planner may be able to help you consolidate your debt and draft a family budget, but a therapist can be of assistance too.
In counseling, people learn how to identify things they can control and what they can’t control. Then, they are able to work toward a solution. For example, a person cannot control a purchase that they have already made. Carrying around guilt only adds to their stress and can make some people freeze into inaction. The person must accept circumstances as they are so they may move forward.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but in therapy people learn to accept responsibility for the role they have played in their own debt, then move on. This is an important aspect of stress management.
Another technique is examining the underlying motivations that may have led to spending outside our means. Did we buy a more new car because our brother did? Send a child to an expensive school because our parents did that for us? Do we snap up the latest tech, or fashion because doing so gives us a rush of excitement? Doing so may indicate a person has trouble with confidence or impulse control.
Other people have money trouble due to losing a job. For many, especially those whose identity is tied to their work, this can lead to problems such as depression. A person with depression will struggle to summon the energy to look for a new job, despite knowing they should, leading to more feelings of guilt, especially when the bills stack up.
It is important for this person to speak with someone about motivation and other factors that may contribute to depression.
A failing business
Small business owners take pride in their company, and money trouble can derail their own sense of personal worth. An accountant can help a business owner run the numbers to help get them back on track, but a counselor can have a part to play as well.
For example, is the business owner engaged, or has he or she been delegating too much to managers and employees, then letting them slide when work is not up to standard? Is the business owner facing trouble with anxiety, substance abuse, or other issues that are making it harder for her to attract new clients or scaring away existing business partners?
Therapy can help treat mental health issues and teach skills related to business such as conflict resolution and setting boundaries.
Sometimes a business owner is too proud to ask for help when they don’t understand an aspect of their own company. For example, when he is a great general contractor but doesn’t have a good handle on bookkeeping. The point of therapy is not to teach those skills, but to provide a safe environment in which someone can talk openly without feeling judged about their shortcomings.
A therapist can help these types of people look for opportunities to improve or ask for help.
Obsessive gambling and shopping
Sometimes a mental disorder is the direct cause of financial hardship. This is most obvious in the cases of obsessive gambling and shopping. People who suffer from behavioral addictions need professional help to learn skills to recognize their triggers and cope with urges to indulge in their addictions.
A counselor can also recommend healthy and productive activities that can replace the time once spent shopping or gambling. This type of work does not happen overnight. It can take time and require changes to a person’s ways of thinking and even daily routine.
For example, just seeing a particular store or gambling institution may cause the person to relapse. Seeing a particular shopping or gambling buddy may be a trigger as well. In those cases, a person with a behavioral addiction may need to find a new route home from work or cut ties with their friend, at least until they feel more secure in the management of their addictive behavior.
However, many mental health disorders can also affect finances. A person does not need to have debilitating schizophrenia or another serious condition to suffer. A person with the anxious and irritable traits linked to PTSD may struggle to thrive at work and be passed over for promotions. If they have traits on the depressed and withdrawn side, they may lack the motivation to drum up more business or seek a better job.
Contact the MindSol Wellness Center in Sarasota, FL
Our staff provides a non-judgmental space where clients can discuss their money troubles and seek help setting boundaries, managing stress, and dealing with thoughts such as guilt. Call our Sarasota office today at (941) 256-3725.