Objectives: The present study aims to explore the economic distress and pertinent coping strategies in families with a member suffering from a severe mental illness. Furthermore it endeavors to gauge the impact of illness burden and that of the Greek recession on economic distress, while disentangling their contribution. Methods: In total, 190 key relatives of people with severe mental illness were recruited from community mental health services in the region of Attica. Relatives completed a self-reported questionnaire consisting of the Index of Personal Economic Distress, the Family Burden scale and the Family Rituals scale. Information on financial strategies for tackling recession and income loss due to the recession was also gleaned. Results: Regarding economic distress, only 15% had frequent difficulty meeting routine financial demands in their household. The preponderant strategy was spending savings (56.8%). Income category and spending less on basic needs were the main predictors of economic distress. Conclusions: Objective poverty indices rather than burden predicted economic distress to a greater extent.