Why personal finances are an important aspect of women’s mental health
“It was the darkest phase of my life. Beyond work, I would just spend all my waking hours lying in my bedroom alone staring at the ceiling or mindlessly scrolling on social media. It started after the sudden disappearance of my father, which left my family drowned in a mountain of debt. I was not earning enough, my family had little financial buffer. The situation was so serious that I plunged completely into an emotional abyss, ”recalls Mamata Sinha, 32 (name changed).
Sinha was diagnosed with clinical depression. Her story of survival is inspiring, but she has an important takeaway that is seldom recognized in the field of mental health discussions. “I was fortunate to have received proper medical care, but I cannot deny that I was only able to come out of this black hole after my financial problems eased considerably. My experience made me realize that our overall well-being is so intimately linked to our financial health and even more so in the case of women, but the connection between the two is rarely recognized, ”says Sinha.
While Sinha’s trigger was a financial requirement itself, the connection between financial stress, money, and gender is complex and runs much deeper than people realize. Women still have a long way to go to achieve financial independence and break free from the limitations of traditional gender roles. Those who manage to have their own sources of income must tackle the gender pay gap. All of these have negative effects on the balance of power between women and men in social structures, which has an impact on the quality of their life and can amplify psychological distress.
According to the World Health Organization, “Gender determines the differential power and control of men and women over the socio-economic determinants of their mental health and lives, their social position, their status and their treatment in the community. society, as well as their susceptibility and exposure to specific mental health risks. Gender differences occur particularly in the rates of common mental disorders – depression, anxiety, and somatic complaints. These disorders, in which women predominate, affect approximately 1 in 3 people in the community and constitute a serious public health problem.
Dr Era Dutta, consultant psychiatrist at the Mind Wellness Clinic in Kolkata, explains: “The 21st century woman is synonymous with the ‘desire’ and the ‘need’ to be financially independent. Financial matters play a major role in improving women’s mental health, as healthy finances allow them to feel respected in society and in control of their lives. It also gives them the freedom to explore more options to explore in terms of work, relationships, the ability to leave an abusive relationship and access better health facilities. Leading studies have repeatedly shown that there is a cyclical correlation between money, anxiety and depression. Women have often been subjected to differential pay systems, even in first world countries. “
While the gender gap makes it more difficult for women to build a strong financial safety net for themselves and their families, lack of financial literacy and deep-seated perceptions that women are unable to manage their finances do that many women remain dependent on their husbands for other men. family members. Sinha says, “Even when I started making more money, it didn’t end my financial problems because I didn’t know how to save it and invest it according to my needs and my abilities to take. risks. As is the case with most of my generation in India, money management skills were never deemed worthy enough to be passed on, especially because of my gender. It took me a lot of knocks and failures before my investments started to give me adequate returns and I was able to put an end to all the financial difficulties that my family and I were going through.
When Sinha started her investment journey, she was convinced by the idea of investing only in traditional risk-free instruments, but after a while she realized that she should diversify and take risks calculated so that its investments generate optimal returns. “The journey of learning, unlearning and relearning the principles of wise investment has been a great stress reliever. I changed my preferences for asset classes – I no longer relied solely on term deposits and post office systems, I started taking small steps towards mutual funds and the performance of my wallet improved in a few months. I could choose from a plethora of funds for different purposes with different levels of risk and liquidity was not an issue either because, unlike fixed income instruments, there was no lock-in period, ”says- she.
Kaanan Ladha, CEO of Invest Aaj for Kal, says: “Good financial management can prevent stress and for that, good investment strategies are sacrosanct. Once you are aware of the financial situation and know our suitability, you can start to invest accordingly and build a portfolio. In the investment game, the most important thing is consistency and the best way to start a consistent investment is SIP. Consistency helps with build, and build is super potent in the long run – for example, 10% growth in 25 years won’t equal 250%, but it makes you 985%. You earn 735% more just because of the membership. A small investment over time helps you build up enough capital, which can improve your financial situation and take away your money worries.
Key points to remember
1. Do not hesitate to seek medical help and advice if you feel that your mental health is deteriorating.
2. If you are feeling overwhelmed by financial problems, seek professional advice or leave the management of your money to someone you trust for a while.
3. It is important to develop the principles of wise investing to reduce stress and anxiety. If necessary, modify your investment preferences for the asset classes.
4. In the investment game, the most important thing is consistency and the best way to start a consistent investment is SIP.
This article is part of the HT Friday Finance series published in collaboration with Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund.