Financial stress: Reacting to a growing crisis
If you’ve ever dealt with bill-driven insomnia or credit-card-induced stomach pains, you’ve experienced financial stress. Health care professionals have long studied the role stress plays in our personal health and, subsequently, how stress affects our quality of life and how we interact with our surroundings. As our culture becomes more adamant about treating anxiety and fostering open, honest conversations about mental health, a recent push to understand how money problems produce stress has occurred.
There’s now increased awareness of “financial stress” – the relationship between financial difficulties and their effects on health – in the health care and financial industry sectors. As a result, employers, universities and research institutions alike are actively creating and developing myriad resources to combat this crisis.
Research shows that financial stress affects different components of a person’s overall health.
As institutions continue to undertake research endeavors to understand how finances affect our health, financial stress has become a widespread experience in the United States. In 2015, the American Psychological Association published research intended to identify the most common sources of tension in the United States and concluded that 72% of Americans experience financial stress. In follow-up studies published in 2017, they determined that money is the second-most-common stressor among Americans. Other institutions have discovered that the most common symptoms of financial stress are anxiety and depression and that financial burdens also affect physical health and interpersonal relationships. Further research illustrates that, as a result, our nation’s productivity, the quality of our familial relationships and the experiences we are providing for our kids are declining.
Research shows that financial stress affects certain demographics differently, too.
Apart from the distinct ways that financial stress affects individual components of our health, different demographics experience unique challenges when they encounter this issue. Communities especially vulnerable to financial stress include parents of young children, low-income individuals, the uninsured, people with limited mobility and other disabilities, and first-generation college students, to name a few. Strikingly, the heightened vulnerability experienced by these groups can be so pronounced that, sometimes, people may fall victim to substance abuse or avoid seeking medical care altogether.
Institutional endeavors and public health campaigns are helping Americans combat financial stress.
The substantial breadth of offerings provided by employers, universities and federal agencies is impactful because, as a result of our increased awareness of financial stress, resources are being customized to address the specific needs of unique communities and individual aspects of overall health.
Apart from the impact of financial stress on Americans’ health, many studies assert that financial stress reduces the quality of work and productivity of employees. Collectively, employees across all positions in any given workplace contribute to billions of dollars’ worth of lost revenue every year. Employees spend a substantial amount of time at work worrying about finances, and their productivity is negatively affected by stress even when they actively concentrate on tasks.
These insights offer a new perspective on the age-old aphorism “health is wealth.” Check out our report on the impact of finances on health to learn more about this pressing issue and its intricate nuances. Download the full report here.
October 15, 2018 | Research