Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Money and mental health

It is often worth taking the time to step back and recognise how large the role of money is within our society. Designed as a simple way for enhancing transactions, it has become a currency replacing individuals doing favours for one another. While such a system of life might work in a small community, it is obviously impractical in a larger country and especially internationally. Money simplifies such transactions and is a commonly agreed mechanism of exchange.

The use of money in a discussion about economic activity is therefore such an important political and social conversation. How an economy is managed, what steps people can take to reach employment, how individuals can be helped in society are wide-ranging questions that inspire a whole range of political disagreements.

The forced closure of numerous industries by the government has been something utterly unprecedented

Over the past year, economic activity has been altered quite dramatically. The forced closure of businesses and numerous industries by the government as part of the lockdown measures has been something utterly unprecedented in previous parts of history. The mental health impacts of lockdown have often been discussed and deserve widespread attention. They are often linked to the consequences of remaining inside for such a long period of time.

However, the economic consequences of Covid don’t just link to insecure personal finances and a lack of social security. Economically, Covid can be severely damaging for one’s mental health and personal wellbeing. Why? Because everyone wants to have basic financial security so they can access the resources that are an intrinsic part of a meaningful life.

1.72 million people were jobless, which is the highest level in five years

For most young people, this is achieved through employment. Even though those at university have access to maintenance loans, that often isn’t enough to ensure students can financially afford their rent, college textbooks, and other transport costs university entails. This means students often rely on part time work in the hospitality sector. This is precisely what has been decimated by the repeated lockdowns and pandemic.

Unemployment has therefore seriously increased, with those aged 25 to 34 most likely to lose their jobs. In the three months to November last year, that age group had a redundancy rate of 16.2 per 1,000, which was five times higher than the same point last year. The Office for National Statistics have reported that some 1.72 million people were jobless, which is the highest level in five years. Specifically, 418,000 more people were unemployed than the same period last year, which marked the biggest increase since 2009.

The consequences of such financial insecurity can be immensely damaging and harmful

Such a change is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. The furlough scheme has meant many people have been able to remain paid despite being unable to work. The government have recognised that, given they have told businesses to shut, they should be responsible for paying their employees while such restrictions remain. Not all of those businesses will survive after the lockdown however. People’s habits on how willing they are to go to a restaurant may alter, reducing the demand and, therefore, affecting which jobs will remain.

Clearly, this is damaging for people’s mental health. To be unemployed is to not know where the next amount of money is coming from. It makes paying for the utilities humans rely on harder. The problem can be acute whether the individual is only funding themselves or is part of a whole family reliant on such wealth. The consequences of such financial insecurity can be immensely damaging and harmful.

Communication has never been more important

What are the ways for dealing with this? Talking to others can be immensely helpful. Even though it may seem embarrassing or uncomfortable, the moral support and advice that others can provide is a way for trying to deal with the situation. Another individual may be aware of a service provided by the university that may offer support. Similarly, the internet is the place to go for looking for jobs. While many sectors have been utterly decimated, there are still jobs out there, not least ones reliant on virtual communication.

That reliance on communication is the most important thing. Whether it’s friends, family, or academic tutors, speaking about the problem ensures it doesn’t accumulate and become more damaging to individuals. That can be the key for ensuring proper development and allowing for a sense of confidence about the world prospering. While financial worries are obvious and unsurprising during such a time of difficulty, communication has never been more important. If people don’t communicate, the problems don’t go away. Instead, the knowledge and intelligence of every person makes finding a solution, and therefore improving one’s financial situation, a far more likely reality. Everyone benefits from that.

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