In recognition of National Financial Literacy Month in April, Greater Nevada Credit Union (GNCU) and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Public Health partnered to bring experts together. On Wednesday, April 5, a panel of experts discussed how financial literacy can impact people’s mental and physical health outcomes.
“We are at an inflection point where these types of conversations have to happen,” said Danny DeLaRosa, chief experience officer, GNCU. “People with expertise in financial areas can give you a plan and can help you understand what next steps to take. Even greater is someone who understands an individual’s specific financial circumstances and who can guide them accordingly.”
During the panel discussion, which included DeLaRosa; Mavis Major, licensed clinical social worker, Renown Health; and Praveen Durgampudi, Department Chair of Public Health Practice, School of Public Health, University of Nevada, Reno, each panelist shared their insight into the connections between financial wellness and health. Moderated by Michael Thomas, senior vice president of communications, GNCU, the event started with a staggering statistic.
“According to a study by Bankrate, nearly two out of three Americans can’t afford a $1,000 expense,” said Thomas. “How did we get here?”
Credit and credit scores were a key topic during the discussion with panelists who shared personal stories of their past financial vulnerabilities.
“Everyone has something they are trying to financially achieve,” said Durgampudi, who opened up about his challenges purchasing a car when he first arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant. “I could show I had a job and that I could make the monthly payments but as someone new to the country, I did not yet have a credit score.”
Stigma and shame were also discussed as both are associated with people admitting financial challenges and seeking help. The panel talked about how to open up dialogue around finances in a way that doesn’t embarrass people.
“Sharing our stories of what we are challenged with and how things are impacted is meaningful,” DeLaRosa said. “If a child grows up in a household experiencing financial stress, they feel it. With one catalyst moment, you can transition and make significant, generational changes.”
From people challenged by medical debt to those who are struggling to afford their homes, Major discussed the link between socioeconomic income and health, with many Americans having to make difficult financial decisions each day, oftentimes choosing between their short-term health and finances.
“Many families have to decide between groceries and a large copay on prescription medication,” she said. “They are choosing between going to the doctor or a home remedy—debating the cost between the two. Access to healthcare can play a significant role in finances and many times, by the time we see a patient, they are so sick they end up in the ER.”
According to a report from Clinical Psychology Review, there is a direct link between mental illness and financial stresses. Other research has also shown that an individual’s financial capability, which is the combination of financial literacy and financial access, can predict their health outcomes.
“Our aim was to provide a community forum to highlight when people are financially stressed, they may experience anxiety, depression and other mental health issues,” said Thomas. “With deeper understanding on how an individual’s finances may affect their physical and mental health, financial wellness is possible with assistance from financial institutions and healthcare professionals for improved health and well-being.”
Financial resources are available no matter what stage of life people are in. Learn more by visiting the GNCU website.