Money affecting your mental health? Find help here

Nearly half of adult Americans say money has a negative impact on their mental health. These organizations can help.

An illustration of a brain lifting a dumbbell with bank notes inside.

How does money affect mental health?

As a money app, we know that money is a huge cause of stress for our users. As part of our 2022 money trend report, we found out that:

  • 74% of Cleo users said the cost of living crisis had negatively affected their lives in 2022.
  • 43% said the best way to describe the way money made them feel was “anxious”
  • 22% said the way money made them feel “sad”

The holidays can already be a tough time for many people (understandably) and the money stress that the holiday season can bring only adds to this.

Obvi, Cleo can help with a quick spot if you’re in need, help you learn about budgeting, and provide you with encouragement (or roast you) along the way.

But we know that problems with money can be bigger than personal finances. They often require reaching out for some extra help, so it’s not all on you. Especially when it comes to your mental health.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, the first thing to know is that you don’t have to carry it alone.

We’ve put together a whole list of resources that can help you get access to help for your specific situation.

Second off, there is nothing wrong with needing help. Anxiety is a perfectly natural reaction to a cost of living crisis.  British psychologist Sanah Ahsan explained it this way in an article on mental health:

“Doesn’t it make sense that so many of us are suffering? Of course it does: we are living in a traumatizing and uncertain world (...)  we’re trying to stay on top of rising living costs.
If a plant were wilting we wouldn’t diagnose it with ‘wilting-plant-syndrome’ – we would change its conditions. Yet when humans are suffering under unlivable conditions, we’re told something is wrong with us, and expected to keep pushing through.”

Why is it so hard to get help?

There of plenty of inter-connected reasons why accessing help for your mental health is hard. We can thank late-stage capitalism for most of them.

First off, there’s the fact that many people struggle to access healthcare in the States. Those who do have healthcare have trouble finding help in-network.

Then there are cultural reasons. Late-stage capitalism has blessed us with a culture of hyper-individualism, meaning that people struggling with systemic problems are only offered individual solutions.

Add to this something called cruel optimism. We’re told that if we try hard enough to get the things we want, we’ll always be able to get them.  Which just isn’t so - sometimes there are whole systems of power in play against us. Thanks, influencers.

All of this is why mental health has come to be seen as something you should be able to fix on your own. Self-care was originally popularized by the Black Panthers, and it was all about acknowledging systems of oppression and the impact they have on our mental health.

Finally, there’s the obvious: therapy costs money. If money is what’s causing you stress in the first place, then that leaves you in a dilemma.

BUT, there are plenty of ways around this, don’t worry.

How to get mental health help without money

💙 If you’re insured, give your insurance company a call to see what they cover. Because of some big bills passed in the past decade, insurers are required more than ever to cover mental health in the same way they cover physical health.

Additionally, you can often search your health insurance provider’s mobile app for in-network mental healthcare options. Zocdoc is another resource where you can search by insurance provider.

You can also try find a therapist that you like, and then work with them to see if they can be covered through your insurance.

💙 If you’re a college student, most campuses have some sort of mental health support services available to students. Make the most of any student counseling services that are available, or ask an off-campus counselor if they offer a student discount.

💙 Give 211 a call to see what resources are available within your community. The number is a resource information hotline that can point you in the direction of homeless shelters, support groups, or low-cost therapy.

💙 Find a therapist with a sliding scale pay scheme. Based on your circumstances, you could get 50% or more deducted from the cost. We’ve pointed our a directory in the list of resources below where you can search for sliding scale therapy.

💙 On that note, some therapists do free sessions as part of their code of ethics. If you’ve found someone you like the sound of, ask them if they have any pro bono spots available right now, or if that’s something they’d be open to.

Directories for finding a therapist

Other resources


Big love. Cleo 💙

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