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Managing money for mental health after spending during holidays

Posted on: December 29th, 2015 in Mental Health No Comments


Studies show that one in four people with a mental health problem also has debts and that half of adults with debts also have a mental health problem. When you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and are working to recover, money takes on an entirely different meaning. It can, unfortunately, negatively impact recovery.

The financial strain on an individual battling mental illness can be broken down into four areas:

  • Cost of medication
  • Cost of hospitalization
  • Missed work due to illness or being unable to work
  • Impulsive spending when unstable

In the absence of adequate insurance or income from family and friends, treatment can be exceedingly expensive. Before they become well, people may spend money on things they don’t need and cannot afford. This is especially the case during the holidays.

The difference between needs and wants

Rational spending is based on prioritizing needs above all. That’s why it is important to know the difference between your needs and your wants. Before you start planning how to use your money, let’s be clear about the difference between needs and wants:

  • A need is something you must have to survive, like a place to live and enough food to eat.
  • A want is something you might like to have, but you don’t have to have it right away. You can save to have it later.

In this case, investing in your mental health is definitely a need and a priority. Otherwise, you not only face putting your mental health at risk, but also implicate any recovery made. If buying gifts or overspending during the holidays can discourage you from prioritizing your needs, chances are they can wait. Your loved ones will understand and most likely be supportive of your decision.

Managing money when recovering from mental illness

A few ideas for managing money:

  • Keep track of your spending. Once you have achieved stability, make a plan that suits your needs. Keep track of bills, save receipts and create weekly or monthly budgets. This will be particularly useful for the holidays.
  • Hand over the finances to someone you trust until you become stable again. This isn’t a permanent condition; it’s just something you may need to do in order to become well.
  • Communicate with your community mental health team. Resources are available if a person needs medication and/or hospitalization. Make sure you or your loved ones research options.
  • Managing money while recovering from mental illness is difficult, but not impossible. Organizations and policies support recovery. Take advantage of them by putting pride aside. Achieving stability is part of self-care.

Future care

For those diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities, better money management has consistently been associated with superior quality of life and greater self-efficacy. Patients frequently list avoiding debt and learning to budget as their top goals for recovery. There is great need for a recovery-oriented approach to increasing money management skills to improve such individuals’ ability to function in the community.

The framework of psychosocial rehabilitation includes very few systematic models for teaching money management skills to patients with psychiatric disabilities. Patient skills for living, working and operating in social environments need to be addressed to enhance consumer choice and promote recovery.

Sovereign Health is one such leading behavioral health center that prioritizes not just the treatment of patients battling mental illness, but their successful reintegration back into the society. For more information, contact us 24/7.

Written by Sana Ahmed, Sovereign Health Group writer

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