Can financial counseling be used as a tool to help alleviate financial-related depression symptoms in adults?
The literature examined by the authors considered the relationship between financial stressors and mood disorders–specifically, depression. They found that generally financial stress is positively related to depression symptoms. In addition, three key factors affect the relationship:
- Having a lower income leads to more economic uncertainty, unhealthy lifestyles, etc. (social causation)
- How the financial stress is viewed by the person-how manageable or unmanageable is the current financial situation (does it cause psychological stress)
- Already having a mental health disorder (social selection).
The authors noted the following key findings:
- Lower level of household income is related to a higher risk of depression symptoms
- A decrease in household income is related to an increased risk of depression symptoms
- Small numbers of household assets (cars, furniture, etc.) are related to an increased risk of depression
- An increase in household wealth is related to a decrease in risk of depression symptoms
- Debt is positively related to depression symptoms but varies based on the type of debt
- Current financial hardships matter most in terms of depressive symptoms
- Financial strain (current or in childhood) may affect depression symptoms
- The correlation between financial stress and depression symptoms is more pronounced in lower-income groups
My A-HA Moment
My client’s mental health can be affected by their financial health and this is an important consideration, especially for those clients who may come from a lower socioeconomic status. In particular, recognizing that some of my clients dealing with unsecured debt could be affecting their mental health, I will focus on improving their situation through financial counseling, focusing especially on debt management–hoping to foster a positive effect on their mental health.
Continuing the Discussion:
As mental health issues have increasingly been part of the national dialogue, I am interested in learning more about changes to your best practices.
- How are you considering a client’s mental well-being in tangent with their financial well-being?
- Have you changed your client conversations around financial-wellbeing and mental health?
- Could financial counseling community outreach in lower socio-economic areas decrease depression symptoms?
Written by: Jennifer Witkowski, AFC® Candidate
Read the full research paper here.