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"When men face financial setbacks or challenges, they may feel like they have failed to meet expectations, which can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety."

Money is often a source of stress for many men, and it’s no secret that financial worries can take a toll on anyone’s mental health. In this article, we’ll explore how finances can affect men’s mental health, some key underlying factors, and tips on how to cope.

Men are often socialized to believe that their worth is tied to their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Thus, many men may feel a sense of obligation to be the so-called primary breadwinners for their family or that their financial success is a measure of their worth as a man. 

When men face financial setbacks or challenges, they may feel like they have failed to meet these expectations, which can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety. This pressure can be especially pronounced in cultures that place a high value on material success and financial status.[1] This can create significant stress and anxiety around financial matters, which can have a negative impact on the mental health and well-being.

Losing one’s job can be a particularly detrimental experience for men, as it can create a sense of loss of identity and purpose. With a loss of income also comes a perceived loss of respect in the household, even if their family is truly understanding and supportive. 

Men may associate their job or career with their sense of self-worth, and losing that can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and low self-esteem. Losing a job has the potential to create a spiral of anxiety and depression in men; the longer the duration of unemployment, the more severe the potential mental health toll.[2]

A sense of social competition may also contribute to financial stress and its impact on mental health in men. Men may feel pressure to keep up with their peers or to maintain a certain lifestyle, which can lead to overspending or taking on too much debt. This pressure can be especially pronounced in social circles where financial success and material possessions are highly valued. 

Men may feel like they need to present a certain image to their peers, or they will be judged negatively if they don’t achieve the same level of financial success. This pressure can create significant stress and anxiety around financial matters, which can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. 

Fortunately, there are several actionable steps that men can take to manage financial stress and support their mental health. Below are five tips for men to consider regarding their finances in support of their mental health:

1. Personalize Your Spending

This involves taking a mindful approach to spending and aligning spending with personal values and priorities.

For example, you may choose to spend money on experiences that bring you joy or align with your personal values, rather than simply following societal expectations or trying to keep up with the latest trends. By making spending more personal, you can feel more in control of your finances, reduce the impact of external pressure on your spending habits, and prioritize what is meaningful to you.

2. Set Boundaries

Pressure (perceived or real) from one’s social network or family members to spend in certain ways can create a lot of anxiety. This may show up as extended family explicitly expecting financial support from you or being amongst friends who tend to spend a lot on restaurants, vacations, cars, etc.

Setting boundaries around financial goals and spending can help you manage this pressure. This may involve discussing expectations around financial priorities and expenditures, setting clear boundaries with family members about financial support, clearly communicating your finances.

For example, you may decide to set a budget for yourself and communicate this budget to your friends and family members. You could set clear boundaries with family members about what kind of financial support (if any) you are willing to provide. You may politely decline invitations to expensive activities or events that are outside of your budget and instead suggest alternative, more affordable options. By setting boundaries, you can reduce the pressure to overspend and prioritize your financial well-being.

3. Reframe Challenges as Opportunities

Reframing financial setbacks as opportunities for personal or professional growth, rather than failures, can help you develop resilience and a sense of purpose outside of financial success. By viewing these setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth, you can begin to take control over the challenging situation rather than feeling like a victim. This may involve setting new goals or exploring new opportunities for personal or professional development.

For example, you could choose to reframe a challenging experience (e.g., losing one’s job or incurring a large unexpected expenditure) as an opportunity to evaluate your financial situation, set new goals, and make positive changes. You might use this setback as motivation to improve your financial literacy, learn new skills, or seek new job opportunities that align with your values and priorities.

4. Work With a Financial Professional

Financial stress can have a significant impact on one’s mental health, but seeking support from a financial counsellor can help you manage financial stress and develop strategies for improving your financial situation. A financial counsellor can provide guidance on creating a budget, managing debt, and planning for the future, as well as providing instrumental support during challenging financial times.

A financial professional can also help you identify areas where you can cut expenses, potentially increase income, insure against risks relating to disability or critical illness, or make investments that align with your values and priorities.

The relationship between finances and men’s mental health is complex and multifaceted. From societal expectations, to job loss, to family pressures; financial stress can take a significant toll on a guy’s wellbeing. However, by taking actionable steps, such as personalizing your spending, setting boundaries, reframing setbacks, and seeking financial counselling, you can manage financial stress and support your mental health. 

By addressing financial stress head-on and developing strategies for managing it, you can achieve greater financial stability, well-being, and overall satisfaction in life.


  1. Gonalons-Pons, P., & Gangl, M. (2021). Marriage and Masculinity: Male-Breadwinner Culture, Unemployment, and Separation Risk in 29 Countries. American sociological review, 86(3), 465–502.
  2. Crabtree, S. (2021, June 4). In U.S., depression rates higher for long-term unemployed.

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