Georgie Harman (left) and Sean Hughes

Those experiencing financial challenges are twice as likely to encounter mental health issues according to a new report commissioned by the corporate regulator and Beyond Blue.

In collaboration with Beyond Blue, ASIC commissioned research to examine the relationship between financial wellbeing and mental health.

“The Money and Mental Health Social Research report confirms previously anecdotal evidence that people face a range of mental health impacts including stress, diagnosable mental health conditions and suicidal thoughts when experiencing financial challenges,” the joint press release stated.

The research also young adults, women, First Nations people and small business owners are more likely to experience financial challenges and poor mental health.

Beyond Blue chief executive Georgie Harman said there has never been a more important time to understand the relationship between money and mental health and ensure links exist between mental health services and practical financial support.

“Financial wellbeing and mental health are influenced by social inequality, financial literacy, relationships, shame and stigma about both money and mental health, work-status, physical and psychological health, and financial and mental health literacy,” she said.

An issue the industry can’t fix

With financial advice currently pricing out much of the market, financial advice doesn’t have the capacity to improve outcomes for vulnerable Australians.

However, Harman noted the benefits of improved access to support services and Beyond Blue is working to develop new tools and referral pathways.

Since August 2020, Beyond Blue and Financial Counselling Australia have partnered to encourage people to access information and support to improve their overall wellbeing.

“We need to be doing all we can to help people access financial counselling or mental health support as soon as possible, particularly at a time when so many Australians are feeling the pinch with rising cost of living,” Harman said.

ASIC commissioner Sean Hughes said the research highlights the close and complex relationship between money and mental health.

“ASIC aims to help Australians to be in control of their financial lives, by helping them manage money day to day, make informed financial decisions, and plan with confidence for their future,” Hughes said. “We will also draw on the findings of the research to inform our consumer-facing messaging, including ASIC’s Moneysmart resources.”