Understanding the Connection Between Money and Mental Health for Women

When we talk about women and financial health, it’s tied to events more commonly associated with women in relationships: moments like getting married, starting a family, or saving for a child’s education. As a society, we don’t foster conversations about women becoming independent financial managers for the long haul. 

Why? 

Because financial health is strongly linked to mental health. If you’re worried or stressed about money, have no financial plan, or aren’t sure if your financial needs will be met, your mental health will be negatively affected. 

If we are to empower women – unmarried, divorced, or widowed – regarding mental health, that includes facilitating their financial health and confidence. 

Research shows that there is a strong link between financial stress and mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Since women are already overrepresented in diagnoses of depression and anxiety compared to their male counterparts, the need for better financial services is key for female mental health. Vulnerability is a key component to these mental health issues and fear is so often the underpinning of many of these. Women are also still raised not to talk about money, or to view personal finance as a taboo topic. 

Over the years, I have observed these pressures magnified in mid-life women, when both financial and role demands peak for many people. 

Beyond mid-life, financial stressors may be amplified for women. Trying to save for a personal milestone such as retirement is difficult enough in a dual-income household and can be much harder for women who are single, divorced or widowed. 

Research has shown that women may see money differently than men. Studies show that women are more likely to use money in a helpful way (e.g., a child’s education, philanthropy, retirement) as opposed to accruing money for its own sake, compared to men. 

This can be particularly troubling for widowed women. Many women who experience the loss of a spouse find themselves in the difficult situation of becoming financially independent for the first time in their lives, without the experience, confidence or money culture that allows them to ask questions, talk about money and become comfortable in their new financial role. 

Talking more openly and frequently about the financial health of all women and helping prepare them for financial singledom is a key component of empowering women to achieve better financial health. 

Young adults who experienced adverse circumstances in childhood or come from poor families demonstrate greater financial and mental vulnerability. Adverse financial strain in childhood can lead to reduced mental health in adulthood. A similar relationship between long-term financial strain and health has also been observed among older adults, specifically, perceived long-term financial strains over the life-course were significantly related to some health-related outcomes in later life, such as depressive symptoms, and functional impairment. 

So, your ‘money’ health is something we all need to address – start by seeing your accountant, a financial advisor or chat to a trusted friend. At the end of the day, it is encumbered upon each of us to put in place measures and strategies, to ensure our financial security, not only in youth, but for the remainder of our lives. 

 

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