Money and Mental Health
08 February 2017
Mental illness can affect anyone. 1 in 4 of us will suffer with mental health problems at some point in our lives - so if you haven’t been personally affected, you might know someone who has – I have personally had a close family member affected by mental health and it is hard for everyone emotionally connected – never mind the added burden of money and finances.
With this, there lies a toxic relationship between money management and mental health. Money issues can cause stress and anxiety, and poor mental health can affect anyone’s ability to stay on top of managing personal finances and making important financial decisions.
In recent years, charities like Mind and Money and Mental Health Policy Institute have profiled the issue and initiated important conversations about how to tackle it. But what, if anything, can the financial services industry do to reduce the impact that money issues can have on their customers’ health?
Technology, and specifically FinTech, could provide some solutions in a number of situations – it’s already taken the industry further in supporting other vulnerable customers and allowing people to have more control over managing their finances. Having the tools to set limits and controls on spending, credit or access to certain products could be fairly simple solutions to develop. Or making use of the wearable technology that many customers have to help monitor the indicators of mental health – such as sleep patterns or stress levels – so they’re better placed to self-manage their financial wellness. Even more wide ranging technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) are being trialled by some firms to demonstrate to their front lines staff what it is like to have a mental disability and having to try and understand complex and important matters like a new mortgage, a loan or any other financing agreement.
Next month the FCA, as part of its Project Innovate RegTech programme, and the charity, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute will come together to try and tackle this really important issue. At PwC we’re proud to host and support the FCA’s TechSprint event. The two-day event will call on tech designers and developers along with leading experts on regulation and mental health to come up with ideas and practical solutions to help people with fluctuating mental health problems to have greater control and better manage their finances.
The FCA are leading the way globally on innovation – with many calling the UK the most FinTech-friendly jurisdiction. This latest initiative supports their mandate to promote innovation and competition but also takes a practical approach to their other mandate of helping to protect vulnerable customers.
I'm personally really excited to see financial services and technology firms working with academics, mental health and financial inclusion charities to help break the damaging link between money problems and poor mental health.