COVID–19, Financial Stress & Mental Health across Retail & Hospitality

As we head into uncharted waters, it is not only a virus that is on most people‘s minds.

Financial concerns with the ripple effect of mental health, adds to the uncertainty of employment, paying bills, loans and mortgages, with limited access for basic food items.

Across Australia, Health Care & Social Assistance employs over 1,685,100. It’s the largest employment group.

Next is Retail with Accommodation & Food Services. Combining these two you get 2,172,300 people working in and across these industries.

The retail and accommodation & food industries, are mostly made up of smaller businesses who offer a large portion of the Australian population, casual and part time employment.
With many that cannot afford to pay staff while the business is closed and not running. Adding to financial stress.

With the advice on social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and keeping a distance have placed many businesses to question if its viable to stay open or to shut. Workers have had their hours reduced due to customer numbers dropping, or in some cases, all hours have been completely removed.

Some of these workers are the only financial providers within the household situation. They may even be carers of the ill and frail. I have heard that some people have removed themselves from their employment and society with the fear of being infected by the virus and transferring it to their loved ones.
Adding to their financial stress as the only income earner in the household, the question is, who is going to pay their rent/mortgage? Who is going to pay for their amenities let alone how will they collect food?

The ripple effect of schools and childcare potentially or already closing, require families to stay home from work and not get paid.

Some businesses cannot offer or provide a home office.

Some businesses don’t even know if they will be able to survive themselves.

Will this ripple effect on businesses cause them to close?

Will this mean more shopfronts vacant?

If people are not being able to pay for their home or rental property will we see more people and families out on the street?

Let’s not forget about our mental health? Not only has it already been flagged about people who are/may need to go into isolation but the mental impact, on top of the financial impact is concerning.

I know that I am experiencing chest pain and breathlessness, but is this covid-19 or anxiety?

So, how do we fix this? As an individual the only thing I can do is be vocal.

Vocal towards asking the government and the big banks to put a pause on everyone’s loans. 4 – 6 weeks, no payments or interest added to the loans.

Whether the loan is a car, a business, a house or a rental property. Once you’ve removed financial stress, for at least a short time, this will help support our mental health.
We are all in this together and we all have some financial commitments we need to service, no matter what your income or lifestyle is.

Right now, we need the government to support us Australians.
We need the banks to help support Australians.

This is not going to fix the problem. But it will at least ease it.

Where to find help, when needed.

Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Black Dog Institute, Suicide Call Back Service, Financial Stress and your Health, National Debt Helpline
In the interim, contact people who you owe money. Tell them you are having difficulties and ask for time to work things out. Make progress payments and set up a payment plan. Many services are happy to give you payment extensions if you call them. If you don’t get a helpful response speak to the Hardship Team of the lender or provider, you are dealing with.