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Tips on Managing Money While Recovering From Mental Illness

Managing money is tough when you’re recovering from a mental illness. There’s medications, therapy, maybe you’re not working. What can you do?

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.

Managing money is tough when you’re recovering from a mental illness. There’s medications, therapy, maybe you’re not working. What can you do?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.

8 thoughts on “Tips on Managing Money While Recovering From Mental Illness”

  1. Thank you for the information. Sometime, for certain individuals, mental illness can also impact on ability to manage debts, in situations where this is the case, free advice on managing debt should be sought as soon as difficulties arise by contacting an agency such as Citizens Advice Bureau. The sooner a debt issue is addressed the more successfully (and less stressfully) it can be managed.

    Mental illness can also sometimes make it difficult to get certain types of insurance, however Insurance is covered by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). The Act makes it illegal to provide goods, facilities and services to a disabled person (including people with mental health problems) on terms which are unjustifiably different from those given to other people. Since 1990, the DDA has made it illegal to refuse insurance, or charge higher premiums, unless the company can demonstrate statistically higher risks as a direct result of a specific mental health condition

  2. The financial cost of mental illness is not often talked about. It’s one thing to get help for mental problems when you can afford medication and therapy, but what do you do when you do not have the money to do so?

    I was on and off different depression medications for a few years but I stopped since I did not feel it was improving my situation and I did not want to spend money on something that did not work.

    Recently I realized that I am not making any progress so I probably need professional help again, but I cannot afford it. I guess I’ll just have to figure it out myself. There are alternatives to medication when it comes to depression, but it takes constant, concentrated work to make a difference.

  3. Wow, this post means a lot to me. I was extremely ill with bulimia 4 years ago the addiction got so bad I took about a couple of loans and although I have worked so hard at making such a huge improvement which I did but paying off these debts for so many years is still causing me to be depressed as I don’t have much money a month after they are paid off.
    Then looking for a better job is so difficult as I didn’t do as well as I could have at school due to my illness & didn’t go to uni although I work extremely hard.
    Anyway thank you for the article was great to see the issue brought up.

  4. Enjoyed your article–would love to see more on the subject. I am in the midst of financial ruin recovery. I relapsed and unfortunately made some very bad choices.

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