Worry over paying unexpected bill tops concerns keeping workers awake at night

Equifax commissioned study released ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week shows connection between financial pressures and mental health

As Mental Health Awareness Week1 sets out to create better awareness of the stresses in day to day life that can cause mental health issues, credit information provider Equifax, has released the findings of research which shows how money worries can impact mental wellbeing. Equifax commissioned YouGov2 to conduct a piece of research amongst working people to understand the connection between debt and mental health issues.

Over a third (38%) of workers said money worries have kept them awake at night –higher even than worrying about the wellbeing of family (29%) or their own wellbeing (28%). And it seems that the fear of the unknown is the biggest money worry keeping workers awake at night.

Half of respondents who said they have ever had difficulty sleeping at night cited concern about being able to pay unexpected bills as the cause of their insomnia. And it appears that women are more likely to worry more about the unexpected, with 57% of women citing this as the reason for sleepless nights, compared to 42% of men.

Being unable to pay off loans and credit cards was the second biggest financial reason for sleepless nights amongst working Brits at 46%. However, a close third was worrying about being able to afford treats for the family, at 43%, perhaps suggesting social pressures have a role to play in the financial worries that can affect people’s wellbeing.

Concern about expected big bills – such as the car servicing or boiler repair – is a cause for sleepless nights for 32% of workers, followed by paying utility bills at 30%. Not being able to afford food bills and not being able to pay the rent or mortgage, are both a concern for a quarter of workers who responded to the YouGov survey.

It is those who earn the least whose worries about being able to pay their debts are most likely to keep them awake at night. 44% of those earning £5000-£9000 per annum said money worries were the cause of lost sleep. 40% of those earning £15,000 to £19,999 blamed money concerns for sleepless nights, followed by 38% of those earning £10,000 to £14,999.

But it is the impact of sleepless nights on working life that is most striking. According to the YouGov study commissioned by Equifax, over half of workers (57%) that have had a sleepless night said that is has affected their performance at work, with workers in London the most affected (65%), followed by those in the East of England (58%) and the Midlands (57%). It’s perhaps not surprising, therefore, that mental health is one of the biggest causes of sickness absence in the UK. Despite sickness absence rates falling by 15-20% since 2009, absence due to mental health issues rose by around 5%, in the same period3

“Our study undertaken by YouGov provides clear evidence that money and mental health often sit side-by-side”, said Lisa Hardstaff, consumer credit expert at Equifax. “People can slip into debt as a result of their mental illness. The stresses and strains of financial worries could mark the start of mental health issues for others. Whatever the reason, if a person is suffering from stress or mental health issues due to financial worries they should seek professional help. And Mental Health Awareness Week provides a valuable source of help and support.”

1 https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

2 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2044 adults of which 1,113 are workers. Fieldwork was undertaken between  8th-9th August 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

3 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/658145/thriving-at-work-stevenson-farmer-review.pdf


For further press information, please contact: Clare Watson, Cecile Stearn, Parm Heer or Wendy Harrison at HSL on 020 8977 9132 / Fax: 020 8977 5200 or Email: equifaxbtocteam@harrisonsadler.com

About Equifax

Equifax Inc. (Equifax) is a global information solutions company that uses unique data, innovative analytics, technology and industry expertise to power organizations and individuals around the world by transforming knowledge into insights that help make more informed business and personal decisions.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index, and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. Equifax employs 10,400 employees worldwide.

Equifax Limited is one of the Equifax group companies based in the UK.

Equifax Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.