Mental health and financial hardship

Financial health and mental health are closely linked. Financial stress can often have a negative impact on our mental health. The reverse is also true, as mental health issues can make financial stress worse.

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Taking control of your finances can have positive flow-on effects for your mental health and general wellbeing. That is why we work with Beyond Blue to encourage people to access information and support to improve their overall wellbeing.

Whatever the situation, if money is on your mind, it is never too early – or too late – to seek support.

Free financial counselling is available to help you get on top of your money problems and improve your financial wellbeing.

This page is about the steps you can take to improve your financial wellbeing if you are experiencing financial stress and it is affecting your mental health, or vice versa.

If someone close to you is experiencing mental health issues and financial difficulty, we have information at the bottom of this page about how you can help them.

Steps you can take to improve your financial wellbeing


Know that you are not alone

If you are feeling stressed and anxious about your finances, worried about unpaid bills, or overwhelmed by your debts, you are not alone.

The recent Money and Mental Health Social Research Report confirms that people experiencing financial challenges are at least twice as likely to encounter mental health issues as those who are not, and vice versa. And these problems are more common than you think. Around 5 per cent of Australian adults experience both financial challenges and mental health issues at the same time.

There are many life events that can directly impact your financial wellbeing and mental health at the same time. Examples include: leaving home, relationship breakdowns, losing a job, retiring, illness, a death in the family, caring for a loved one, natural disasters, or similar.

Financial challenges can negatively affect mental health, and mental health issues can cause a decline in financial wellbeing.

If you are in this situation, it is important to remember that support is available, and things can get better.


Prioritise your mental health

How much worry is too much worry?

It is a normal part of life to feel a full range of emotions, but if you are feeling sad, worried or hopeless for more than a few weeks, seek professional support.

  • You can use this  simple checklist to find out to what extent you are affected by anxiety and/or depression and understand your options for support.
  • If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000.
  • If there is no immediate danger, but you need to speak to someone urgently, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24-hour crisis support.
  • Other help is also available. You can contact any one of these free and confidential mental health and wellbeing support services, any time of the day or night.

Connecting with others

Being connected with others is important for your mental health.

  • Talking to a close friend, partner or family member can be a good starting point.
  • You could also speak with your doctor and consider a mental health treatment plan, which will help with the costs of working with a professional practitioner, like a psychologist.
  • If you are looking to connect with others who may be going through similar experiences to yourself, you can join the Beyond Blue Online Forums.

Talk it through with Beyond Blue

Sharing the load with someone else can really help. So no matter who you are, or how you are feeling, you can talk it through with Beyond Blue.

  • The Beyond Blue Support Service is available 24/7
  • You can call and talk to a counsellor on 1300 224 636
  • Or visit to chat with a counsellor online


Access emergency financial assistance

If you are in financial hardship and struggling to meet your basic needs, emergency relief is available to help ease your financial situation. Emergency relief is available from community organisations across Australia and may include one-off assistance such as:

  • food, transport, telephone or chemist vouchers
  • rent or emergency accommodation
  • part-payment of utility (electricity, gas and water) account/s
  • food parcels or clothing
  • budgeting assistance and/or
  • referrals to other services that help to address underlying causes of financial crisis.

See our page on Emergency Assistance for more information about what assistance is available and where to go for help.


Understand you have financial hardship rights

When you are unable to meet repayments on your loans and credit cards, or pay your energy, phone or internet bills, this is called financial hardship or financial difficulty.

There are various laws and guidelines requiring lenders, utility providers (electricity, gas and water companies), telecommunications companies and councils to have customer hardship policies in place and to help customers experiencing financial difficulty.

If you are going through a difficult time and unable to meet your normal payments:

  • You have the right to ask your bank, energy, council or telecommunications provider for hardship assistance.
  • They are required to respond to your request and be reasonable about making an affordable hardship arrangement.
  • Any collection activity should stop while they are considering your request.
  • If you cannot come to an arrangement with your creditor that you think is fair and reasonable, you have the right to seek free and independent external dispute resolution.

There is a range of financial hardship assistance and payment options available. These will vary depending on your circumstances, who your provider or lender is, and what you need help with.

The earlier you get help, the more options you are likely to have.

A free financial counsellor can help you explore your options, negotiate with your creditors, put plans in place to manage your debts and get your finances back under control. Go to next Step 05 for information about how you can contact one of our free financial counsellors.


Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If you are feeling stressed and anxious about your finances, worried about unpaid bills, or overwhelmed by your debts and need some help, please contact one of our financial counsellors today.

Thousands of Australians get help from financial counsellors every year. Access to financial counselling is free, it is not means-tested and is available through community organisations across Australia.

Financial counsellors aren’t judgmental about your circumstances – they are here to offer you free, confidential and independent advice and assistance.

To speak to a financial counsellor you can:

  • Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 – open weekdays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • Use our live chat service by clicking the chat icon in the bottom right corner of your screen. Live chat is available 9:00 am to 8.00 pm weekdays. If you send a message outside these hours a financial counsellor will get back to you.
  • Make an appointment to see a financial counsellor in your local area – Find a local Financial Counsellor.

The Money on Your Mind survey by Financial Counselling Australia found that financial counsellors see a strong link between financial hardship and mental health. The good news is that once people get support from a financial counsellor, they often report an improvement in their mental health.


Our tips – Supporting someone else

If you are worried about a friend or family member who is experiencing mental health issues and financial problems, there are things you can do to support them.

  • Don’t shame or judge them for the financial situation they find themselves in
  • Do listen to them. Show empathy and compassion. Let them know that you are there for them
  • Don’t try and solve their problem for them. Your conversation alone can make a big difference in helping them feel less alone and more supported
  • Do encourage them to get help from a mental health professional or to talk it through with Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 and support them to do this
  • Do encourage them to get help from a financial counsellor for their money problems. The easiest way to speak to a financial counsellor is to call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007
  • Do call Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you are concerned they might be thinking about suicide and you aren’t sure how to talk to them
  • Do explore more information from Beyond Blue about: