26 May 2023

Are money worries causing a rise in mental health problems?

26 May 2023

Money worries could be linked with an increase in some mental health conditions, according to new figures from a major insurer.

Last year, nearly a quarter (23.5%) of new Scottish Widows customers applying for life and critical illness insurance declared a mental health condition. This was an increase from around one in six (15%) in January 2020.

According to Scottish Widows’ data, seven out of 10 (71%) mental health disclosures in protection insurance applications were being made by women.

Money concerns were the most common driver of mental health conditions, according to Scottish Widows’ data, ahead of pre-existing medical conditions and work pressures.

The insurer’s data also indicated that unemployed customers could potentially be at a higher risk of a mental health condition. The most common occupations where mental health conditions were disclosed were teachers, care workers and nurses, according to Scottish Widows’ data.

Rose St Louis, protection director at Scottish Widows, says: “Since the start of 2020, we have seen a significant increase in the number of customers telling us about a mental health condition when they buy life and critical illness insurance.

“Whilst it’s unclear if this is because they are becoming more comfortable talking about it – or worryingly – more people are suffering from poor mental health, we know that money concerns are the most common cause of mental health conditions ahead of pre-existing medical issues and work pressures.

“That’s why it’s even more important to have open discussions about money and longer term financial planning, whether that’s with a financial adviser, family and friends, or using resources such as the Government’s MoneyHelper service.”

She adds: “When looking for a life and critical illness policy, it’s always important to check exactly what’s covered, for example if mental health conditions are included.

“Some may even offer physical and mental health support services – for example our customers have access to RedArc nurses and Clinic In A Pocket online GP services.”

Help and support is available for people who are concerned about their finances. The UK Government has information about the cost-of-living support available for households online.

Charities such as Citizens Advice, StepChange, Christians Against Poverty and the National Debtline, run by the Money Advice Trust, can also help with money issues.

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