The indisputable link between financial wellbeing and mental wellbeing

words by Emma Richardson, Tuesday 4 June 2024


Australian people experiencing financial challenges are twice as likely to be experiencing mental health challenges, research has found. The study also determined that those experiencing mental health challenges are twice as likely to be experiencing financial challenges.

That link was established in a 2020-2021 research project led by Heartward Strategic and commissioned by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), in collaboration with Beyond Blue.

This two-way relationship suggests that mental health and financial difficulties can compound and lead to fast, downward spirals in both financial and mental wellbeing.

The current cost-of-living crisis is also influencing the mental health of Australians, with the Australian Psychological Society reporting that the number of clients seeking support for anxiety and depression, related to financial stress, increased by more than 50 per cent in 2023.

Specific mental health challenges arising from financial difficulties include stress, anxiety, depression, substance dependence, and thoughts of suicide.

Further, certain community groups have been shown to be more susceptible to experiencing financial and mental health difficulties, including young adults, women, First Nations peoples, and small business owners.


One particularly important factor which influences mental and financial wellbeing and acts as a barrier to seeking support is stigma.

This can be broken into financial stigma, social comparison, and mental health stigma.

Financial stigma involves shame, a sense of failure, and a reluctance to speak about financial challenges due to fear about what others might think. Social comparison involves pressure to keep up with others financially and feelings of isolation when this is not possible. Mental health stigma involves a reluctance to speak about or act on mental health challenges due to shame and/or a fear of discrimination.

Stigma is associated with delays in recognising or acknowledging a problem; delays in help seeking; withholding information from others (friends/family/professionals); self-medicating; withdrawal from friends/family/work; and prolonging other unhelpful behaviours such as overspending.


Importantly, research suggests that a positive relationship also exists between financial wellbeing and mental wellbeing.

Financial wellbeing and mental wellbeing have been shown to have additive positive impacts on each other over time. This means that if we can improve our financial wellbeing, our mental wellbeing is also likely to improve (and vice versa).


There are many things you can do to improve your financial wellbeing, and therefore your mental wellbeing. These include:

  • Acknowledging the link between your financial wellbeing and mental wellbeing and thinking about how this is impacting you.
  • Working on reducing the stigma associated with your financial difficulties by challenging your thoughts around money problems.
  • Setting regular time aside for working on your finances.
  • Creating a financial plan that outlines your short and long-term financial goals, as well as including specific plans for paying off debts and minimising non-essential spending.
  • Embracing creative ways to enjoy the things that you value most by organising or participating in things like clothes swaps, meal exchanges, or community events.
  • Working to create an emergency fund that helps you combat unexpected financial challenges.
  • Accessing and asking for help from those closest to you, as well as from professional supports (both for your mental health and financial wellbeing). This might include your GP, a psychologist, a financial counsellor or advisor, or one of the support services listed below.


There are many services available to support you with your financial wellbeing, including:

  • Moneysmart:
    • Moneysmart is a Federal Government website, brought to you by ASIC, that provides information to help Australians be in control of their financial lives. This website also provides links to additional support services for access to food, transport, housing, and more.
  • National Debt Helpline:
    • The National Debt Helpline helps people tackle their debt problems through free, independent, and confidential services.
    • or 1800 007 007
  • Mob Strong Debt Helpline:
    • Mob Strong Debt Help is a free nationwide legal advice and financial counselling service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
    • or 1800 808 488
  • Zurich’s My Wellbeing Guide

There are also many services available to support you with your mental wellbeing, including:

  • In an emergency:
    • Call 000 or attend your local hospital emergency department.
  • Lifeline:
    • Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services.
    • or 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue:
  • Gambling Help Online:
    • Gambling Help Online provides free online support for anyone affected by gambling. You can also access the National Gambling Helpline for free, professional, and confidential support 24/7.
    • or 1800 858 858
  • 1800RESPECT:

Need Support? If you know someone who requires urgent assistance or support, please contact:

Suicide call back service: 1300 659 467

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

Emergency: 000