Poor Mental Health & a Poor Economy: What's the Link?

By Myles Leva


Last Updated: December 16, 2022


We know that mental health and financial health are intimately connected.

A poor economy means that more people’s financial health will be jeopardized. So, doesn’t it make sense that a poor economy = more mental health problems?

This simplistic line of thinking is reaching the limelight now because of the simple fact that yes, more people struggling financially means more mental healthcare challenges. In this article, we will look at the connection.



How does mental health relate to the economy?

It is connected with personal finance in a few ways experts have noted.

Financial stress is one of the most widely understood problems. Financial stress can lead to many problems with individuals’ health and relationships. According to Australia’s HealthDirect, these include:

  • Arguing with those close to you
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of anger or fear, or both
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Withdrawing from relationships socially and sexually

This describes the micro problem of individual financial stress. A poor economy is a macro challenge, which means that more people will suffer from financial stress.

Your health will understandably be affected by budgetary challenges or income insecurity. This can play out in a few ways.



At the individual level, inflation means less spending power.

Everything you need or want simply costs more than it used to. In the current situation, income opportunities and investment opportunities, of almost all kinds, are not keeping up.

This creates budgetary pressure on individuals, families, and organizations which can easily contribute to financial stress. The only real financial path out of this pressure is the embrace it and adjust your personal budget accordingly.

Finding out one of the many paths to making extra income from your main job can help. This does describe a lifestyle sacrifice and it can be difficult for some people to adjust.


Healthcare Costs

This is a common problem in the US, with Gallup polls from the last few years showing that it is the largest single financial challenge faced in the US for years in a row. 17% cited healthcare costs as the largest concern back in 2017, with too much debt being a distant second at 11%. Recent polls don’t paint a rosier picture at all.

Like all costs, healthcare costs are simply harder to afford when many essentials are seeing price increases. We don’t need to explain why healthcare is important, which is part of why this particular problem can so easily aggravate existing mental health problems.



Is mental health an economic problem?

The poor economy is certainly a mental health problem. It can therefore be described as an economic problem.

There is a self-propelling problem that is begun by the relationship between mental health and the economy.


How does bad mental health affect the economy?

The Mental Health Foundation of the UK studies the “economic and social costs” of these problems. They have singled out direct costs for both individuals and society as a whole.

In 2015, common and more serious mental health problems were the third most common cause of sick leave. In the same year, these causes added up to 17.6 million cumulative days’ worth of sick leave or 12.7% of all sick leave in Britain during that year.

The foundation also quotes an Oxford Economics study explaining that an estimated 181,600 people are unable to join the labor force due to these problems.

The total cost of these problems and other mental health problems was estimated to have cost the UK $30,647,500,000 in lost GDP in 2015. This is attributed to all the direct effects on individuals and their employment and the effects on businesses.

Similar studies have also been conducted in the US. If you take the two most common mental health problems in the world (anxiety and depression), the cost they inflict on the global economy is at least $1 trillion per year.

When you remember that the poor economy itself helps create these common problems, you have a worrying image in your head.

There is no easy answer to this but we can always recommend the best financial practices. In addition, resources, where available, should be taken when necessary.




Mental health and finance are always connected.

Likewise, the state of public mental health and the economy are also intertwined. A poor economy will translate into more individuals suffering from common mental health symptoms and sometimes with more serious symptoms.

If you feel you are struggling, visit this article on our sister site, Daily Motivation for resources and options. Your Go-To Mental Health Resources: Here When You Need a Hand

Photo by Christina Morillo


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