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Money Sickness Syndrome?
By Adrian Hobbs

Hypothetical scenario: An employee walks into your office wearing a serious face and says, "I think I am suffering from ‘Money Sickness Syndrome'. I need help".

Would your answer be:
a. "Money Sickness Syndrome? Are you havin' a laugh?"
b. "That's not even a real disease"
c. Bursting into uncontrollable laughter and motioning the employee out of your office as you try to hold back tears.
d. Recommending a money management course.

If your answer was a, b or c then read on; this article has been put together for you. If your answer was d, well done, but read on still; some stats in this article may blow you away.

What is MSS?
Money Sickness Syndrome (MSS) may be the least known but most widespread condition affecting adults in the UK. First identified in 2006 by Dr Henderson, MSS refers to "the physical and psychological symptoms experienced by people who are stressed out about money". These symptoms, worryingly, may include "anxiety, weight gain, depression, sleeplessness and palpitations".

Who is affected?
Consider this bombshell: Several credible sources (www.hrmagazine.co.uk, www.myfinances.co.uk, www.personneltoday.com etc.) suggest that of the 62 million people living in the UK, up to 42 million adults suffer, or have suffered from MSS.

Let me break this figure down into corporate terms:-

  • 21% of mid – high level managers experience "constant" financial worries
  • Only 9% of skilled manual workers suffer from this problem
  • Stress costs the UK economy an estimated £3.7 billion a year
  • 20% of skilled manual workers and junior managers/admin staff are the groups most likely to turn to drink to cope with stress

Enough said.

What can be done?
Employers from all sectors are being urged to pay more attention to tell tale signs of stress and to offer appropriate help. This help I find, often ranges from group financial management courses to more professional and tailored help. The message though, at this point is awareness: we all need to wake up to this hardly-focused-upon effect of the recession.

Added: 14th July 2010

With over 25 years experience in making businesses more efficient, Adrian Hobbs is a pioneer in lean business modeling, employee development and change management.  Find out more about Adrian's company Flex Recruitment.

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