We all want to be happy; that’s a given in life. We’re all also well versed in the supposed reality that money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s a phrase we’ve heard so often, it becomes an established rule for the majority of us. Of course money doesn’t buy happiness, you might be thinking - haven’t we already figured this out?
It can be difficult to recalibrate your thoughts to see the money/happiness matter as even a question. But it is a question - despite what many a Hollywood movie and TV show might have taught you over the years. It’s a question because it’s a dilemma that many of us have to face and ask ourselves, especially in the face of mental health concerns such as depression.
Can Depression Be Fixed By Money?
If we were to believe all the cutesy endings to movie and TV shows, the answer would probably be a resounding no on this one - but this isn’t exactly the reality.
This statement has to be kept in perspective. While it might be tempting to think that a celebrity lifestyle, where you live in a luxury penthouse, drink champagne, and can go on endless shopping sprees, is a cure for all ills - it’s not. Those are nice things to have in life, but being able to live a life of luxury is no guarantee of mental health and well-being. There are plenty of celebrities who have been diagnosed with depression who show this is the case; money isn’t buying them happiness, though it could be argued that they have fewer worries than other depressives, giving them a more pleasant form of misery.
So while living a life of luxury might not be the answer for depression in and of itself, that’s not to say there aren’t benefits to being able to throw money at the problem.
For example, money can buy access to better treatment from psychotherapists if you’re suffering with depression. Money can help you to keep the rest of your life running as it should be while you battle depression; you have the option to hire help, for example. Money can lessen the burden that depression can make you feel squeezed beneath when you’re battling with your mental health.
But it’s not a cure. The idea that depression is going to be ‘cured’ by a spot of high living is just not reasonable - but it’s something a number of depressives tend to cling to as the answer that they have been looking for. It can be tempting to fall into wishful thinking: everything will be better when I can do X and afford Y - but this is actually damaging thinking. What if someone with depression reaches those heights, lives the high life, has money to burn - and still has depression? That’s going to make it far more difficult to cope with.
It isn’t just those with depression who find themselves battling with mental health and money issues, either.
Money Controls Our Mental Health
In more ways than you might initially think, money has an influence on our mental health - and not just in terms of depression.
Finances are such an all-encompassing thing. If we don’t have the money we think we need, then we tend to suffer for it - it’s a constant reminder of having to go without and make do. Having to chase down every single penny available doesn’t give much time for all the things that are beneficial when it comes to our mental health, such as self-care and taking the time to relax.
If you find yourself struggling with any mental health issues, then it genuinely might be worth examining your personal finances. You might find that if you can make some inroads into feeling more in control of your finances, you feel happier and more content in general. It’s not a cure - there’s no cure that money can buy for mental health problems - but it might give you a starting point.
There are other ways in which money can intersect with our happiness. Most importantly, the role that work performs in how happy we are with our lives.
Work, Happiness, And Self Care
You can find yourself wondering whether money can buy happiness for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most common is if you are offered a new job. This job might be demanding; it might be stressful; it might have a serious impact on your work/life balance - but it’s well paid.
It’s at that point you might have to make a decision. You might not like the job, but will that dislike at least be compensated somewhat by the amount of money you will be earning?
If the ‘happily ever after’ of TV shows and Disney movies were to be believed, then the answer would be: no. Money can’t make you happy, so if you’re going to be miserable in your job, then it doesn’t matter if it’s well paid or not. That’s the life lesson we’re all meant to have subscribed to; that money is not the be-all and end-all, that you need other things to make a life good.
However… thousands of people work in well-paid jobs they dislike, and they think it’s worth it.
Does This Mean Money Can Buy Happiness?
In some cases, yes. That might run contrary to what we’ve been told over the years, but it’s a simple fact. Many people work hard at a job they don’t enjoy, because it pays well. They use the money they earn to invest into an idyllic lifestyle for themselves and their family. Sure, they don’t like work, but they see it as a trade off to enjoy the finer things in life.
Of course, for every person who is happy to work long hours in return for financial benefits, there is someone for whom this life would make them miserable. These people would not be happy, would not have good mental health, if they were working long hours at a job they hated.
It’s All About Individuals
To an extent, everything discussed so far regarding money and mental health might sound a little… contradictory. It’s been suggested that money gives you access to better therapies and causing less stress if struggling with depression - but it can’t cure depression. It’s also been stated that some people are happy to work in jobs they hate provided they are being well compensated; while others aren’t.
The reason this is all contradictory is because people are contradictory. What works for some will inevitably not work for others.
So, if you’re pondering on whether money is a route to mental health, then you should remember the following:
- Money cannot cure mental health concerns.
- Do not be persuaded into wishful thinking, that one day you will feel better and happier if you have more money. Money alone is not an answer.
- If you do have access to funds, then it may open up new opportunities in terms of therapies and treatments - but again, it cannot be stated enough, this is not a cure.
- Mental health requires self-care and understanding your own wants and needs.
- Always know what’s important to you rather than what society - or some friendly TV shows and movies - tell you is your preference. You know your own mind and your own mental health better than anyone else ever possibly could.
Walking the balance of mental health and financial matters isn’t easy, but by keeping the above lessons in mind, you should be able to forge your own path to keep you as healthy as you possibly can be.