As yall know, one of the things I’m passionate about is taking care of yourself both physically and mentally, especially if you have a long journey of debt repayment in front of you. We’ve seen a rash of celebrity suicides in the past few months, including two just last month. Kate Spade’s death hit me particularly hard not only because she is one of my favorite designers, but also because she killed herself despite the fact that she was actively seeking professional help (I think? Stories differ) and despite not even being alone in her home when it happened. I’ll spare details for those who may have suicidal ideations, but here’s a link for those who haven’t read about it. I wrote about the importance of mental health maintenance a few weeks ago, and Kate’s and Anthony Bourdain’s deaths again reminded me how important it is for each of you to take care of their mental health, whether you have an official diagnosis of something like depression or not.
Life is hard, you guys. Some people don’t face depression or anxiety persistently, but it may crop up after a sudden difficult life event. It can spiral if you don’t address it head-on. Some people may never face major mental health issues at all – I have a friend who has actually asked me to explain what it feels like to have depression/anxiety because she can’t even imagine what that feels like in your mind and body (I am very jealous of her natural constitution and orientation to life). But even those fortunate people could use personal work relating better to those around them! To be clear, I have never been suicidal, but I know people who have completed suicide or been suicidal, and I can see how someone might get there.
Taking care of yourself either preemptively or proactively is the best thing you can do for yourself and your friends and family. Do not neglect this! It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
Anyway, what does this have to do with finance? Wellllll, there’s a perception that therapy is expensive. And sometimes that’s true! But there are actually a lot of resources out there to help you make therapy affordable, and the personal finance blogging world has done a pretty, pretty good job of covering topics of managing mental health costs, finding good inexpensive options on mental health, encouraging those who are depressed or suicidal, and even helping others repay their debt to be a light in the dark! If you have crushing debt, that in itself can cause anxiety and depression.
Taking care of yourself either preemptively or proactively is the best thing you can do for yourself and your friends and family.
So in honor of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and each of you who may be struggling big or little (or want to help someone financially whose debt is causing them distress), here’s a roundup of some of the best Money and Mental Health posts from the personal finance community in the past year:
Posts that Include or are Resources
This article by Emilie at Wise Mind Money is the perfect compilation of resources for affordable therapy, picking a therapist who is a good fit, and insight from an actual practitioner. If you know you’d like a therapist but have no idea where to start, this is a great piece!
This is a quick overview of some of the programs employers may offer that can help offset the cost of mental health maintenance! My best friend works at a private university and they provide a few therapy sessions for free each year. This benefit does exist!
I won’t steal Steph’s thunder, but digging into the things your company offers as part of your benefit package could provide you with savings you didn’t even know you had at your disposal! Some companies offer reduced health insurance costs if you join a gym or do a health assessment, etc. (which is also mental health related!)... and companies shouldn’t receive notification that you’ve used the program, as that would violate HIPAA, but if I’m wrong about that, someone correct me in the comments!
This is another useful post that provides concrete suggestions on therapy options for those of you who want or need to see a therapist, but don’t think you can afford it. T
4. Mental Health Costs Should Be Non-Negotiables & How Much I Spend on Mental Health Maintenance, Me! @champgains
My post also outlines some strategies for maintaining your mental health, and why that is so important on the debt free journey or just for life in general. I also break down how much I am spending on my mental health costs (fun facts, my new insurance plan year starts next month - surprise - and the costs are going up. Wahhhh)
Sunburnt Saver provides encouragement for people who are struggling with their debt, which is always good to read. At the end, she also provides links to low-cost mental health databases, which is really cool and helpful, and the reason I'm including it on the resources list. Lower income people sometimes actually have greater access to budget-friendly therapist options (but see Post #1 above for Wise Mind Money's thoughts on selecting the right therapist. Just because you get assigned someone in a low-cost program doesn't mean you have to stick with them if it feels wrong!)
This is a straightforward post that gives a suggestions on....well...how to care for your mental health on a budget! She provides good links and practical solutions, including online therapy sites AND recommendations. For those of you who face the difficulty of making an appointment, getting ready to go somewhere, and actually showing up, online therapy might be an excellent option.
Maggie also has an honorable mention post about Healthcare (along with LOTS of useful posts generally - I really enjoyed digging around her site and will probably return to subscribe: Why Health Care is Self Care
Posts that Encourage You in Your Mental Health and/or Debt Repayment Journeys
The next few posts were responses to @DearDebt’s solicitation of posts about money, suicide and mental health for her campaign, #DebtDrop.
They explore the connection among financial troubles, debt, depression, anxiety and suicide. Each of these posts tells a personal story, and most of them offer solutions to managing your finances and to helping yourself or others who are struggling with the mental health side effects of financial woes. These posts are meant to inform and encourage you about your present situation, particularly if much of your distress is financial. The DebtDrop Campaign is one of many ways Rockstar Finance gives back to the community.
This initiative is perfect for those of you who want to give back to someone else who is struggling (or just someone in your community) without derailing your own debt repayment schedule. Basically, you apply for a Giving Card through Rockstar Finance and if you are selected, they will send you a $20 giftcard to spend however you choose in your community. If you visit the site, you can see past Giving Card stories and apply for one for yourself! Making someone else's day usually improves your own - it's a fact! :)
She Picks Up Pennies delivers a straightforward mix of personal stories, information on how the stress of debt can truly affect your life, and encouragement to lift you up and keep going. She finishes with a resources link. This is a solid, quick read for those of you who need a push tot get through something or start making strides towards your financial goals or mental health maintenance.
This post is awesome if you love facts and charts (like I do!). Like Pennies's article, it describes how a person's financial situation can take a severe toll on their mental health. The post also provides useful tips about how to help if you know someone suicidal, describes myths and facts about suicide, global stats, and lots more! This is one of my favorites on the list...because again, I like charts and stats. Who's with me???
Lynette Davis, who is a business owner, tells her own story about business failures nad how anxiety over money can make you feel like you're worthless and shouldn't be alive, even if you aren't actually suicidal. She then describes how she got out of that headspace and, as all the other posters, encourages you that your life is definitely worthwhile.
Have you ever sought justification for your creepy internet "research" behaviors (aka finding every last Bumble date's 6th grade yearbook photos and figuring out *exactly* when they stopped posting photos with their most recent ex?)...? THIS POST IS FOR YOU! The Frugal Gene's story about trying to save her friend who was in law school, in $160,000 of debt, unresponsive for weeks, and who she discovered had been potentially suicidal is a great example of messy friendship and how it's always worth being a little bit wrong than to ignore serious signs your friend may be suicidal.
This is a quick post that provides hope for people who have ever struggled with thoughts of suicide. Jackie Beck describes her own experience and how she came out on the other side. She also links to resources that are specifically targeted to people who might be actively suicidal. USE THEM IF YOU NEED THEM.
I LOVED this piece. Holistic Wallet takes an unconventional view of the debt she accrued to escape an abusive relationship: that debt freed her from something much worse. If you're feeling hopeless about your debt, try turning it on its head like she did - release the shame and be encouraged that it gets better, or that debt may have provided something important for you at some point. Then make a plan to get out of it and eventually avoid debt forever.
There are also a ton of apps that help with mindfulness, meditation, calming anxiety, etc. They aren’t all free, and I don’t use them (currently), but they came recommended, so I’m passing them along to you in the hopes that you may find them useful:
Money is hard. Life is hard. Mental health maintenance can be hard (and expensive). I hope this list will be helpful to those of you who feel overwhelmed with everything life has thrown at you, and want affordable options on how to manage your mental health! We've all been in the depths of something, whether or not we experienced depression or suicidal thoughts along with those depths.
What do you do to manage your mental health? Am I missing any affordable suggestions? Share in the comments!