More than 1.5 million people in England are struggling with spiralling debt and ill mental health
New research by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has shown the scale of links between financial difficulty and mental health problems. The charity is asking the government to use its upcoming Consumer White Paper to make sure people with mental ill health get a fairer deal from essential services (banks, energy and broadband providers) and more protection from aggressive debt collection.
The charity - founded by Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert - analysed national data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, which surveyed more than 7,500 people across England. The analysis showed:
- 1.5 million people in England are currently struggling with both problem debt and mental health problems at the same time.
- People with mental health problems are three and a half times more likely to be in problem debt than those without mental health problems.
- Nearly half (46%) of all people in problem debt are also experiencing a mental health problem.
The research also shows that certain mental health conditions in particular can dramatically increase a person’s chances of facing financial difficulties. It shows that people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are almost six times more likely to be in problem debt than people without a mental health problem. People with bipolar disorder or depression are around five times more likely to experience serious financial difficulty than people without mental health problems.
“When you’re struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety — so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives. Yet despite how connected these problems are, financial services rarely think about our mental health, and mental health services rarely consider what's happening with our money,” Helen Undy, Chief Executive of Money and Mental Health, said.
“The government has an opportunity to use its upcoming Consumer White Paper to introduce minimum standards that people with mental health problems can expect across essential services like energy and banking, to ensure that they get a fair deal. That should include help to avoid problem debt, and better protection from aggressive debt collection practices when it does happen.
“And ensuring that money advice is routinely offered to people using mental health services would increase recovery rates, as well as improving the financial wellbeing of the 1.5 million people currently dealing with this terrifying combination of problems.”
Money and Mental Health is calling for wide-ranging action from the government, the NHS, banks, energy providers and regulators to reduce both the psychological impact of problem debt, and the chances of someone with mental health problems falling into financial difficulty.
You can help by joining the Stop the #DebtThreats campaign by signing the petition.
If you are worried about your mental health, you may benefit from speaking to a professional. Enter your location in the box below to find a counsellor near you.