Mental Health and Debt: A Call To Action

debt

I remember when the hip-hop song came out called “Mo Money Mo Problems”. In my mind, that didn’t seem right. Since I had plenty of problems and no money. Where I came from, poor was an economic reality, but admittedly, it was also a state of mind. To me, it made perfect sense why “being broke” was…depressing. In a 2010 review of 115 studies that spanned 33 countries across the developed and developing worlds, nearly 80 percent of the studies showed that poverty comes with higher rates of mental illness. Among people living in poverty, those studies also found, mental illnesses were more severe, lasted longer, and had worse outcomes.

Keeping those statistics in mind, when I first started to do research for my book “Success to Die For” as much as I tried to be unbiased, I knew it was better to acknowledge my very real biases and work through them to reveal the truth as it became clear to me. I went in assuming my fellow struggling small business owners would report higher rates of depression and possibly thoughts of suicide, but I was proven wrong. Though, my investigation is a far cry from an academic study it was enough to say with a humble confidence that mental health issues don’t discriminate. And with several high-profile suicide deaths getting media attention as of late, perhaps there’s some truth to that song. Perhaps there are several reasons why the super (financially) successful get depressed.

Because there are several studies pointing to either side of the “who has it the worst”, I’d rather be more productive and talk shared humanity and solutions. I think that the one thing both sides of the equation can potentially face is the proverbial fall from grace. The roller coaster of life that has ups and downs.

Whether poverty-stricken or wealthy, losing something of value to you hurts. If you live in a developing country and you find joy in being a farmer, but suddenly experience an accident that takes away your ability to make a living, of course, you’re going to be affected by it. Likewise, if you live in a wealthier country, walk into work one day and find that your entire board voted you out of the company you founded, your best friend is sleeping with your spouse, and they wiped your account clean and sailed off into the sunset…that’s enough to drive a person mad. (That second scenario may seem unrealistic, but I actually met a man who shared the 1st part of that story with me and met others who shared the other parts.) Or how about the middle class man in his 50s who gave one job all of his years of loyalty and dedication, let the job give him an identity and a purpose in life based off of that identity tied to said job only to be let go right after he took out that 2nd mortgage on his house for a family medical emergency.

If I could rewrite the song title I’d say something along the lines of “Mo Debt Mo Problems”. In each of those scenarios, there is much more going on than the loss of money, but money has become, through collective agreement, one of the most essential social constructions in our societies. It is because of money, whether the loss of it or the fear of losing it, that mental health issues are triggered for some or become a stronghold to others who already have a history of mental health issues. The treatment time for clinical depression is said to be exacerbated by up to 18 months if you also have financial issues.

We need real change. 

So while I think awareness and end the stigma campaigns are super necessary, I’d personally love to see collective policy change. I’d love to see more entrepreneurs and business leaders support one another through our mental health and debt issues so that we can create and provide more opportunities, jobs, and resources from a place a love and wholeness. I’d also love to see more developments in technology to help people with mental health issues and debt problems.

“The walk” to back up “the talk” not only prevents suicides but also sustains our mental health and financial recovery for the long-haul as we learn to build roller coaster resilience and maybe even shape our societies to cultivate things like equanimity and equity for the total wellness of all.


 

 

 

Lynette Davis is the founder of Love Yourself Love Your Business. Follow her on Twitter @lynnddavis