- Almost a third of Australians aged 25-44 say financial stress leads to excessive drinking
- One in five have taken drugs and illicit substances to cope with financial pressures
- 70 per cent experience depression or anxiety due to money worries
- Financial stress more likely to cause issues in health for women, and in work for men
AUSTRALIANS are overwhelmingly facing mental health and substance abuse issues because of financial pressures.
The report, released by Acorns, shows that nearly one third (32 per cent) of Australians aged 25 - 44 have abused alcohol due to financial stress, while one in five (20 per cent) have turned to drugs and illicit substances.
The Acorns survey of over 1,000 Australians from around the country found that 70 per cent of respondents have experienced depression and anxiety due to money worries.
A further 54 per cent reporting physical health problems and 76 per cent having difficulty sleeping.
Managing director of Acorns Grow Australia, George Lucas, said the report highlights the urgent need for financial fitness to be considered as part of overall wellbeing, just like eating well or regular exercise.
"These findings should act as a wake-up call for individuals, our political leaders and mental health organisations to consider the potential health issues associated with a lack of financial know-how. Financial literacy is an important part of a healthy nation.
"Mental health issues and their causes are often a taboo topic, even in an open country such as Australia. To navigate this challenge, we need to ensure we have the necessary frameworks in place to help those facing financial difficulties to access support and advice to get their finances under control," said Lucas.
Almost three quarters (73 per cent) said they feel stressed about their current financial situation, with 25 per cent rating their stress level as severe.
40 per cent admitted to experiencing financial stress regularly.
Financial stress also takes a toll at home and work, with 52 per cent of respondents citing it as a cause of major relationship problems, and 49 per cent saying it impacts their work performance.
The report also reveals that men and women react to financial pressure in different ways.
Financial pressure is more likely to have a detrimental effect on women's mental and physical health, while males are more likely to experience problems at work or deal with stress through escapism, turning to alcohol or substances as a coping mechanism.
When under financial stress, women are more likely to experience:
- Sleepless nights (47 per cent)
- Depression or anxiety (44 per cent)
- Illness or health issues (32 per cent)
While men are more likely to experience:
- Issues at work (25 per cent)
- Excessive drinking (19 per cent)
- Drug use or illicit substances (15 per cent)
"The research suggests that many of the pressures and health issues Australians face can be avoided if we can encourage people to honestly assess their financial situation. Financial fitness should become a part of overall wellbeing.
"Taking control of your finances can seem intimidating, but even small steps taken now can reap financial and health benefits in the long term," Lucas added.