In collaboration with Beyond Blue, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) commissioned research to deepen the understanding of the relationship between financial wellbeing and mental health in Australia.
The report builds on existing research and emphasises that the relationship between financial wellbeing and mental health is reciprocal, meaning people who experience financial challenges are twice as likely to experience mental health concerns as those who do not. On the other hand, those experiencing mental health challenges are twice as likely to be experiencing financial difficulties. In this way, mental health and financial challenges can compound and lead to a rapid downward spiral.
Participants experiencing financial challenges reported a range of mental health impacts, including stress and anxious thoughts, diagnosable mental health conditions and thoughts of suicide. Financial challenges were also wide-ranging, including low or limited income, debt and financial hardship.
In the report, connections were established between suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Debt, including falling behind on loan repayments, is associated with experiencing suicidal thoughts. Being unemployed is also associated with a higher relative risk of death by suicide compared to being employed.
Different groups in the community are considered to be more susceptible to experiencing financial and mental health impacts. These include young adults, women, First Nations peoples, small business owners and those who experience multiple adversities at once (e.g. someone who is both a First Nations person and a small business owner).
Importantly, researchers note that a positive relationship also exists. Financial wellbeing can improve mental health, and improvements in mental health can improve financial wellbeing.