Nearly two out of three 18- to 24-year-olds worry each month about paying their bills and, of those, more than 80 percent said it negatively impacted their mental health. Recently, global online health firm SilverCloud studied nearly 2,000 participants and found that money worries about debt and their financial future caused anxiety and hopelessness. Among factors driving these anxieties are college students who are food and housing insecure and those who have accumulated student loan debt. It is no wonder that, with more than 44 million Americans owning more than $1.5 trillion, so many are experiencing poor mental health outcomes. Ameritech Financial, a document preparation company, assists those overwhelmed by student loan debt in finding, applying for and maintaining enrollment in federal programs, such as income-driven repayment plans (IDRs) that can possibly reduce monthly payments, hopefully reducing anxiety and better-allowing clients to focus on their lives, not just their finances.
“Our young people are facing financial challenges right now and it makes sense that their mental health suffers,” said Tom Knickerbocker, executive vice president of Ameritech Financial. “We can help those struggling with student loan debt find the right federal program, such as an IDR, based on income and family size, that might lower their monthly payment enough to improve their financial and mental health.”
Nearly 84 percent of those with money worries said their debt and financial problems had caused them anxiety about their future. Many of these also said they experienced low moods or feelings of hopelessness. The average college student now spends more time at work than in the classroom. These financial pressures reduce leisure time and recreational opportunities as students pick up more hours to try to stay afloat in college. Under these types of stresses, mental health declines are both alarming and predictable.
Of those interviewed, 71 percent believed that people who are suffering from poor mental health are less able to manage their financial challenges. Unfortunately, this means that those who are under financial stress have poorer mental health outcomes. These individuals then have a more difficult time managing their financial challenges. This self-perpetuating spiral of despair can be debilitating. Fortunately, there are more mental health options available, especially online behavioral health companies. There are also options available to those overburdened by student loan debt. Ameritech Financial expertly guides clients through what some feel is an overly complex process of securing the right IDR that might even end in forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of enrollment.
“Unfortunately, we can’t directly help those with mental health issues,” said Knickerbocker. “But we may be able to help with one of the underlying financial conditions that may drive mental health issues — student loan debt.”