Newly released data has shown that financial stress is wreaking havoc on the mental well-being of young Australians, with a staggering proportion of those grappling with financial strains reporting significant adverse effects on their mental and emotional health.
As the cost of living crisis – or should we say crises – continue to roll on, with it being harder than ever to rent in Sydney and homes simultaneously being impossible to buy and selling at a loss while families even forgo their favourite foods to save cash, its not really any surprise that the younger, more financially precarious generations are finding it all a little overwhelming. In fact, I count myself among their ranks.
Now, after months of ongoing financial worries brought about by ever-increasing costs and ever-stagnating wages, data has been revealed by UBank, YouGov, and the Black Dog Institute that shows precisely how and why this is affecting Australia’s youngest – and some of its most vulnerable – people.
WATCH: Is there a connection between the rental and mental health crises?
In new figures, UBank’s report claims that financial stress is doing serious damage to the mental health of young Australians, with a staggering 80% of those interviewed saying that their financial stresses have caused them associated mental health concerns. This comes hot on the heels of our own report that nearly 20% of male suicides are caused by financial worries while over half of Aussies now list the cost of living as their main stressor in life.
Unfortunately, mental health concerns are far from the only aspect of life that suffers in line with financial worries among the young. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of financially stressed young Australians confessed that their physical health was detrimentally impacted too. As were their relationships, with an overwhelming 69% of individuals saying their financial concerns had made bonds with family and friends more challenging.
The report further segments the overarching financial stress into discrete stressors in an effort to help better understand what causes these difficulties and how best to solve them. The survey identified three major and pretty evenly distributed contributors: difficulties in budgeting and managing expenses amidst escalating living costs (36%), depleting savings (34%), and inadequate funds to address emergencies or unforeseen expenses (33%).
Andrew Morrison, Chief Product and Growth Officer at UBank, underscored the significance of these findings, saying that:
“This data is a powerful reminder that financial stress does not discriminate and affects a significant number of young Australians, eroding personal well-being and straining relationships with friends and family.”Andrew Morrison
He went on to stress the urgent need to equip individuals with tools like money management apps, financial advice, and counselling to navigate the intricate intersection of financial and emotional challenges. Though an app won’t get turn the RBA to change its tune or elicit a sudden surge of sympathy from your landlord, they could offer a small oar for the long journey out of the creek…
Dr. Peter Baldwin, Head of Clinical Research and Clinical Psychologist at the esteemed Black Dog Institute, drew attention to the double-edged sword that is financial stress bound up with mental health:
“Financial stress is a double-whammy for mental health. Not only does it heighten the likelihood of developing mental illness, but it also creates obstacles in accessing mental health care, particularly for young people who already grapple with seeking support.”Dr. Peter Baldwin
Dr. Baldwin also emphasised the necessity for affordable, high-quality mental health care accessible to all Australians, regardless of their financial circumstances, an issue about which we’re pretty passionate here at DMARGE, especially in light of the new therapies that are imminently entering Australia’s healthcare ecosystem thanks to the legalisation of MDMA and psilocybin treatments.
These findings should serve as a wake-up call, highlighting the dire need to address the mental health crisis among young Australians. Though money management know-how and mental health treatment would be welcome assistance, they verge on being far too little far too late.
As with any kind of health crisis, the best thing to do is avoid an outbreak in the first place through preventative measures that reduce the risk of such a crisis occurring. In that case, that could – and perhaps should – mean rent controls, price caps, or any kind of meaningful financial support for young Aussies, decided and distributed at the government level.
Naturally, these policies would require some ruffling some corporate feathers and likely upset a few big party donors, making it less likely for any government that wants to protect its neck from going this way. Sooner or later, however, it will be the now-young that comprise the majority of Australia’s electorate, and they’ll be sure to remember who looked after them before passing those views to their future kids…