Friday, January 12, 2024: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Capitol, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Julie Birkenmaier, PhD, Saint Louis University
Physical and mental health outcomes are influenced by many factors, including financial anxiety, strain, and wellbeing. Research findings demonstrate that finances are a key social determinant of health and mental health (Weida et al., 2020). The status of a households finances is important to their health, and the experience of financial anxiety and strain can negatively influence the health of individuals. Financial pressure and lack of resources can occur at all income and asset levels (Grafova, 2018). Two potential links between financial wellbeing and physical and mental health have emerged in the literature. First is financial anxiety and strain, a result of lack of essential resources, which creates a vicious cycle of behaviors that negatively impact health, including avoidance of health care services. Financial anxiety and strain can also trigger stress, which in turn lead to poor health outcomes, such as higher rates of obesity, smoking, chronic health conditions, poor overall health status, and premature mortality (Avendano et al., 2009; Schickedanz et al., 2015). Second is financial anxiety and strain that also has a detrimental impact on mental health outcomes, such as anxiety and depression (Grafova, 2018). Significant unresolved questions about the relationships between finances and health and mental health remain that may provide critical information to health and mental health service providers. Three papers in this symposium will examine different aspects of finances critical to physical and mental health. The first paper, Exploring the Association among Debt Collection Experience, Financial Access, and Physical Health, uses the 2022 Financial Health Pulse Survey to address an unresolved question about an experience common for many consumers with unmanageable debt: does the debt collection experience relate to health, and do financial products and services buffer the relationship? Turning to mental health, the second paper, Mental Bandwidth, Financial Anxiety, and Student Loan Repayment Behaviors, uses the 2021 National Financial Capacity Study to provide new insights to inform mental healthcare providers about the relationships between thinking about finances on student loan repayment behaviors, financial anxiety, financial behaviors, and financial knowledge. Findings suggest mental bandwidth as an important aspect of mental health, with financial behavior and mental health implications. The third paper, Building Financial Capability and Assets to Advance Health Equity: Why and How Race Matters, focuses on racial wealth inequity as one of the key pathways linking structural racism and racial health inequity. The author examines how US young adults components of wealth are associated with physical and mental health, as well as if the associations are moderated by race/ethnicity. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, findings provide a nuanced understanding of the complex relationship among race/ethnicity, financial capability and asset building, and health. Together, these three papers provide insights into the intersection of finances and physical and mental health useful for healthcare assessment and service delivery. Findings suggest that incorporating client financial data, such as debt collection experience, thinking about finances, and financial assets and secured debt, into diagnoses can inform health and mental healthcare assessment and treatment.
* noted as presenting author
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