I am really excited to share that over the next year, I will be working with Gallantium, an innovative film production company, to produce videos on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Each video is 10-15m in length and covers an important topic such as burnout, social isolation or seasonal affective disorder. These topics are communicated through professionally produced case studies, illustrations and expert opinions which cover both the nature of the problem and potential solutions. Gallantium will be releasing one video each month and is kicking off 2022 with a first video focused on financial wellness, which will be relevant to many of us in the weeks after Christmas and New Year.
Why focus on financial wellness?
This focus on financial wellness is increasingly relevant and if you are experiencing problems with debt, you are not alone. In the UK, debt rates have risen steadily since the early 1990s, with sharp up-turns in people using short-term and pay-day lenders in recent years. In 2017, the average UK household spent £900 more than it received in income, which amounted to a huge £25 million overspend in the country altogether. For many, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented even more of a financial challenge, with a quarter of UK homes seeing reduced income since March 2020. Financial struggles have a very real and significant impact on mental health, with debt consistently linked with higher levels of depression.
-Shannay works a high-paid job in advertising but developed problems with unsecured debt after her spending was higher than her income.
-Tom is a project manager, but found himself in property debt when the pandemic hit and he was furloughed.
-Gail is an office manager, but became unable to repay her mortgage when her husband became ill and she had to go part-time to care for him.
These case studies each touch on real problems that many workers are silently struggling with around the UK today. Shannay’s story covers the issue of unsecured and credit card debt. This is a common problem with each UK adult holding on average £3724 in unsecured debt. It is also an increasing concern, as interest rates on credit cards have recently reached an all-time high, putting borrowers at greater risk than ever before. There are particular worries about pay-day loans, as these have been linked with several health problems including greater risk of obesity, poorer physical and sexual health and higher levels of anxiety.
Tom’s story addresses the struggle that many are facing with rapidly increasing house prices. Mortgage debt has increased in a year-on-year way since the 1980s and now accounts for over £1 trillion of debt altogether in the UK. On average, each household has around £100,000 worth of property debt and a property is repossessed every 15 hours due to people not being able to meet repayments. Research suggests that higher mortgage debts is linked with higher levels of depression and hypertension and losing your home due to not making mortgage repayments can be psychologically devastating.
Gail’s story also touches upon the stress that is caused when people find themselves unable to make mortgage repayments. However, in Gail’s situation, this problem has arisen due to a decrease in income linked with illness. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenge of lost income is more topical than ever, and has been linked with higher depression and anxiety in recent research.
Despite this concerning picture, help is at hand in the form of freely available debt counselling charities and support. I am really pleased to have contributed to Gallantium’s video on this topic; as a Clinical Psychologist it is clear to me that financial wellness has a huge impact on mental health. I think this video highlights not only the challenges that people face with financial stress, it also presents solutions. For workers experiencing financial problems, I think this video could both validate and normalise their concerns, and also provide the information needed to begin the help-seeking process that can take them back to good financial wellness.
To preview the full video now, click here.