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Tackling Financial Stress at Verywell and Investopedia's “Your Money, Your Health” Summit

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Verywell

Key Takeaways

  • Verywell Mind, Verywell Health, and Investopedia recently hosted the virtual conference, "Your Money, Your Health"
  • Experts at this conference shared how financial stress can have substantial impacts on mental health, which was especially true during COVID-19
  • Strategies can help to manage both financial challenges and mental health issues, which often affect each other.

On September 21, 2021, Dotdash brands, Verywell Mind, Verywell Health, and Investopedia came together to discuss the intersection of Health and Finance during the challenging era of COVID-19.

During this event, hosts Amy Morin, LCSW, editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast, Jessica Shepherd, M.D., M.B.A., chief medical officer of Verywell Health, and Caleb Silver, editor-in-chief and senior vice president of Investopedia spoke with some of the foremost experts in the fields of medicine and finance. And in a series of four hour-long panels, they addressed the complexities of long-term financial recovery and provided fresh insights to help viewers feel more physically, mentally, and fiscally prepared.

In the second session of the day, Amy Morin, LCSW, and Caleb Silver sat down with Mike Bayer, renowned life coach, George M. Blount, DBA, and Carolyn McClanahan, MD, CFP to discuss the effects of financial stress on mental health while offering strategies for coping. What follows are some takeaways from their illuminating conversation.

At the Intersection of Mental Health and Financial Stress

To kick the session off, Amy Morin, LCSW stated, "We know that there's a clear link between our mental health and our financial health, that people who are in debt are three times more likely to experience depression or anxiety." She went on to describe mental health and financial health as a two-way street.

Mike Bayer, a New York Times bestselling author, personal development coach, and the owner of CAST Centers, a mental health and addiction treatment center network, agreed that money and mental health intersect. "Whether you're looking at relationships, getting into treatment, length of stay with getting help, entrepreneurship, business loans, mortgages, financial stress really dictates so much around how we live our lives," he said.

Following Caleb Silver's insightful discussion of the substantial impact of COVID-19 on both financial and mental health, George M. Blount was brought into the discussion. Blount, who is a financial therapist, and the founder of nBalance, a financial therapy and consultant firm recommended, "When struggling with your financial decisions, be aware of the pace, as we are likely to make irrational or inappropriate decisions when we make decisions under duress, or when we make decisions without the proper context." 

Carolyn McClanahan, a physician-turned-financial planner, and the director of Financial Planning for Life Planning Partners further explained, "When people are under stress because of finances, they release chemicals called catecholamines. I think people have heard of things like epinephrine and stuff like that they kind of put your whole body on fire, so that affects your mental health, affects your ability to think. It affects your physical health, wears you out, makes you tired." 

Stress impacts decision-making, so McClanahan encouraged considered financial planning in advance for how to respond to an emergency, job loss, etc. She suggested having 6 months to a year's worth of funds set aside, especially if you have accrued any debt. Morin shared that she personally understood the importance of that as she struggled to make appropriate financial decisions in the face of a tragedy when widowed at the age of 26.

Understanding Your Own Financial Needs

Blount is a serious advocate of financial literacy, and explained, "When we understand financial therapy, and we understand some of the problems that we see today, you have to go backwards and try to understand them. And I think financial therapy is one discipline that allows us to understand the origin of some of these financial problems before we start to move forward."

Silver, who is the son of a psychotherapist and an investment banker, shared, "I spoke to a financial advisor recently who said, the exercise we need to do is talk about how much it costs to be you, not how much it costs to pay your bills every month, but to be the you that you want to be."

These experts all agreed that financial challenges may be connected to other areas of concern, so it was recommended to take stock of the big picture. Often, mental health issues may be associated with your relationship to money, but such matters can be addressed with help.

Accessing Appropriate Resources

Even though it can be challenging to reach out for support, especially when navigating financial and mental worry, doing so may well be worth the assistance. McClanahan discussed some of the ways in which social workers can help patients navigate financial challenges to afford treatment. Unfortunately, if unaware of these resources, individuals may make decisions that threaten their health or their finances.

Bayer said, "Every year I get more surprised at how many free, wonderful resources exist when you look for them. I'm talking scholarships. I had three jobs when I was becoming an alcohol and drug abuse counselor, at Caribou Coffee and YMCA, and then I applied for that LGBT scholarship for men seeking to become counselors."

Blount also encouraged the Financial Literacy Education Commission and its national financial education web site (MyMoney.gov)  as resources worth exploring. By researching programs and services, you may benefit from specialized support to meet your financial and mental health needs.

What This Means For You

Given that financial anxiety is one of the leading causes of mental stress which can also lead to physical illness, it is crucial to consider how you can manage these factors. Strategies may include planning in advance of financial emergencies how you may deal with them, and researching free resources to assist you in reaching your goals.

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