Building Financial + Mental Health in LA

By LIFT on December 1, 2015

Categories: Financial Strength, Our Work, Personal Well-Being

LIFT-Los Angeles launched a Financial Coaching Pilot to help Members learn the basics of personal finance, including skills like creating a budget and opening a savings account.

The team started with a five-week program for 20 Members and our goal was to help these Members strengthen their financial foundations.

After concluding the program it became clear that not only was this service necessary, but also that LIFT- Los Angeles could do more in support of Members’ personal finances. With the support of Dr. Adam Schickedanz, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow and practicing pediatrician on sabbatical, we decided to ask a more provocative question: is there a correlation between financial literacy and mental health?

Research shows that anxiety and depression are side effects of living in poverty and that these issues deeply exacerbate the stressors already faced by families living in poverty. In order to help mitigate this, LIFT and Dr. Schickedanz hypothesized that by offering a more robust financial coaching program, we might be able to help Members’ gain greater control over their finances and alleviate financial burdens that are causing stress.

Designed by Dr. Schickedanz, the Financial Coaching Pilot aims to investigate the potential of financial counseling and a matched savings intervention to improve individuals’ economic conditions, mental health, and health-related quality of life.

The pilot will involve up to 150 program participants. Participants will receive one-on-one financial coaching from LIFT-Los Angeles staff and AmeriCorps Fellows, who have all received professional training. In addition to the individual support, participants will be incentivized to use a match savings program through the EARN savings initiative. To assess progress we will administer quarterly surveys that help us understand the validity of our hypothesis. Based on what is learned from this pilot, we may adopt the approach nationwide in the coming year.