When you think of all the financial planners, seminars about money, financial services, books, magazines, websites, self-help courses and other forms of financial advice that are available, it\u2019s hard to understand why so many of us are uncomfortable managing money. Certainly, a shortage of good advice, planning, and help is not the problem. So, what prevents Canadians from making good, long-term financial decisions? The underlying issues are deeper, more personal and more difficult to nail down. In the old days, many people believed that the formula for financial success started with a good education. We used that education to build a career, and then when our lifestyle caught up with our income, found a way to earn more money, get promoted, move up and save. The end goal was to retire and live easy without a worry in the world. If someone with a good income was struggling to keep up with bill payments and expenses, well then \u2014 that was their own fault. They were living beyond their means. They weren\u2019t good money managers. They needed to buckle down. While aspects of this old wisdom ring true, for too many people, the road to financial stability and preparedness isn\u2019t so straight and narrow \u2014 it contains many roadblocks and detours. These barriers have less to do with simply following formulas or developing the right habits, and more to do with the complex human emotions swirling around an individual\u2019s relationship with money. The connection between money and health A Manulife survey conducted in partnership with Homewood Health Inc. between April 2016 and July 2017 of Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) Counsellors found that financial issues are a contributing factor in more than half of the instances that people seek support. The problem is, only about one-third of counsellors surveyed say that their patients are aware of the connection between their financial issues and the personal problems they\u2019re dealing with. \u201cPeople with financial issues won\u2019t share their worries,\u201d says one counsellor. \u201cThey get stuck with them and think about them at night and they think about it when they wake up.\u201d Not unlike the stigma associated with mental health issues, people faced with tough financial problems feel ashamed of their situations. Embarrassment, fear of being judged or seen as a failure, and guilt for having let things get so bad are all emotions that prevent people from dealing with their money problems. \u201cWe live in the social media era where, more often than not, we post only personal images of success, health and happiness,\u201d says Lisa Callaghan, Vice President of Institutional Strategy, Marketing, and Communications at Manulife. \u201cWhen people are faced with financial issues that demand outward, visible changes \u2014 like moving to a smaller house or driving a used car or giving up activities or hobbies \u2014 the gap between their projected image and their actual reality can lead to depression, anxiety, and illness.\u201d Breaking down the barriers Financial issues don\u2019t just impact employees on a personal level. Of the counsellors surveyed, 93% saw financial stress playing a role in productivity at work. What can employers do to help? Employees need to know that they are not alone. Having financial problems doesn\u2019t mean they are failures, but it does mean they need to recognize their financial issues, and work to understand the emotions connected with those problems. Then, act to address them. As with many physical and mental health issues, employees need to feel supported to successfully address their money issues. Access to safe, confidential, compassionate and non-judgmental services will help employees feel comfortable learning or re-learning how to manage their finances. Then, perhaps they\u2019ll be more confident and willing to tap into the vast number of services and resources available to help them build a more successful relationship with their money.