Managing money while recovering from a mental illness is a topic I have never written about before and this sort of surprises me. It’s important. It’s important for everyone with a heartbeat–save for those too young to understand the often frustrating impact of finances on our lives. When you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and are working to recover, money takes on an entirely different meaning. It can, unfortunately, negatively impact our recovery.
How Does Money Management Impact Recovery From Mental Illness?
It’s complicated but let’s try to break it down:
- The Cost of Hospitalization
- The Cost of Medication
- Missed Work Due to Illness or Being Unable to Work
- Impulsive When Unstable
Unless you have adequate insurance or income from family and friends, spending time in hospital can be exceedingly expensive. Often, those with mental illness are not able to spend time becoming well in a safe and secure environment.
Medications, medications, medications! I live in Canada where healthcare is, usually, much better, but I still pay over $100 for one of my medications. Every month. Thirty pills. But I’m lucky. Many people with mental illness have no coverage at all.
When a person with mental illness has to take leave from work or is unable to work, it becomes near impossible to afford medications and the support, like talk therapy, that works to ensure we become well.
Last but not least on this list—impulsive spending. When I was manic I spent money as if I had stacks of it. I’m pretty sure I did not need the same shirt in six different colors or different pets every few months. Point in case: before we become well we may spend money on things we don’t need when we cannot afford them.
Managing Money When Recovering From Mental Illness
A few ideas for managing your money:
- Talk to your community mental health team. Resources are available if a person needs medication and/or hospitalization. If you are unable to do this make sure your family and friends research options.
- Hand over your finances to someone you trust until you become well again. Remember that this isn’t permanent but just something you need to do in order to become well.
- Keep track of your spending! Once you have achieved stability make a plan that works for you: keep track of bills, save receipts, create weekly or monthly budgets.
Managing money while recovering from mental illness is difficult, but not impossible. Remember that organizations and policies support our recovery. Take advantage of them and remember–putting your pride aside–that achieving stability is part of self-care.