Important information - the value of investments and the income from them, can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest.

This article explores a variety of mental health topics which some people may find triggering.

Look around you. Did you ask any of your friends, family or colleagues how they were doing this morning? What was their response? For the most part, I imagine their response was positive. But with one in four people experiencing mental health problems of some kind each year in England1 and one in six people report experiencing a common health problem (like anxiety and depression) perhaps all is not as it seems2.

Understanding what mental health is

The Mental Health Foundation describes our mental health as how we feel inside, or how we are emotionally. It’s a bit like the weather. As seasons change, the weather does too. There are bright sunny days, which make us feel happy and want to do things like going outside. There are also darker, rainy days, where you don’t feel like leaving the house3.

Like the weather, our mental health can be unpredictable. And it might change for all sorts of reasons - some of which we can control, some we can’t. Our history, personal circumstances - including our finances - world events, physical health and genes all affect our mental health.

There are certain measures people can take to help with poor mental health as some diagnoses are more preventable than others. From awareness and education at one end of the spectrum, to supporting people who are more likely to develop mental health problems (perhaps because of characteristics they were born with or experiences they’ve had), to helping people with mental ill-health to stay well by empowering them to manage their well-being to reduce the risk of relapse4.

Normalising mental health

Many people still feel uncomfortable opening up about their mental health. So, initiatives like Mental Health Awareness Week (which takes place from 13 to 19 May this year) are essential. Talking about mental health is an essential step to reducing the stigma that can come with it. I’ve certainly noticed a shift over the years which can only be a positive thing.

This year’s campaign is entitled ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’ (other themes have included anxiety, loneliness, nature, kindness and body image). And the idea is to encourage people to find moments for movement in their daily routines - whether that’s going for a walk, dancing around the living room, doing chair exercises in front of the television, having walking 121s in the office… it all counts.

Are you worried about the state of your finances?

If you are, you’re not alone. 40% of people say their most pressing financial need is to budget their day-to-day income and expenditure. And 34% of people say they have spent more than they can afford in the past 6 months5.

A survey by the Mental Health Foundation6 shows that the cost-of-living crisis has placed an immense strain on people’s mental health. A third of those surveyed said that their financial circumstances had left them feeling anxious; almost one in three felt stressed; and one in ten felt hopeless. It’s not easy but taking steps to take back control of your finances can help alleviate some of these symptoms.

How to improve your financial wellness

If your finances are preying on your mind, there are practical ways to make a difference to your financial wellness. Here are four ways to get your finances in better shape.

Budgeting - Around a third of the workers around the world surveyed in our 2023 Global Sentiment Survey7 said that their most pressing financial need is budgeting for their day-to-day income and expenditures. Creating a budget helps you take control of your day-to-day finances and understand what’s coming in, what’s going out and where it's going – so you can prioritise spending and saving.

If you make a plan and stick to it, it can help you to make your money last and potentially save each month.

Debt - think about paying down other ‘expensive’ forms of debt, including personal loans, credit and store cards - you’ll typically pay much higher interest rates on these loans than on a mortgage. Also, if your credit rating has improved since you last opened a credit account, you may find you can access a lower-cost loan now. Online comparison sites can help you find the best deal for you.

If you’re worried about high-interest charges on your mortgage, now or in the future, consider talking to a good mortgage broker. They should be able to help you explore your options for reducing or capping those costs. Also, if you can afford to overpay your mortgage, you might worry about whether it’s best to do so or if you should invest that spare money instead (into your pension, for example). A broker can help you explore those options and ensure you avoid unnecessary charges on any extra repayments you make.

Save - it may feel like an impossible task when your finances are squeezed, but taking positive action to building a better financial future for yourself can have a positive effect on your financial wellness and mental health. Establishing and working towards your savings goals can help you feel better prepared for those important moments in life, such as buying a house, helping family members, or affording the retirement you want. You can start investing with as little as £25 per month with a regular savings plan. You’d be surprised the difference saving a little and often can make over time. Learn about investing regularly here.

Protect yourself - financial wellness means being as prepared as possible for the unexpected. From your boiler breaking down to a job loss, or the death of a loved one. Building up a rainy-day fund, making a will and taking out insurance are just some of the things you can do to give you peace of mind.

Don’t suffer in silence. Help is at hand

If your financial situation is affecting your mental health, we’re here to help where we can (in total confidence, naturally). You can read more about how we support our more vulnerable customers here.

You can contact our vulnerable customer champions over the phone, by secure message or post. You can even meet someone face-to-face at our Investor Centre in London. Want to chat? Find out how here.

If it’s the weight of making financial decisions all alone that’s affecting you, our financial advisers can help you with a personal recommendation if you have over £100k to invest. Equally, if you’re holding over £250k in investments (including your pension) and they’re dotted around different companies, if you brought them all to Fidelity you’d qualify for our Wealth Management service, where you get your own dedicated relationship manager to guide you.

Got a burning question you want to ask? Why not drop us a line. Click here to ask an expert your question.

Source:

1 McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey
2 McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016). Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014
3 About mental health | Mental Health Foundation
4 https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
5 The Fidelity Global Sentiment Survey 2022
6 | Mental Health Foundation - Mental health and the cost-of-living crisis report: another pandemic in the making?
7 The Fidelity Global Sentiment Survey 2023

Important information - investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice.

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