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Tackling your debts

Are you having problems with money because of your mental health?

Posted 18 June 2016 by Christine Walsh

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New research sheds light on the link between mental health and financial problems.

Mental health issues can have a huge effect on money problems, according to a new report from the Money and Mental Health Institute. 

Today we’re going to take a look at the findings and what they mean. We’re also going to take you through the different ways you can combat the problem if you’re struggling with debt at the moment and think that it’s related to a mental health issue. 

5,000 people with mental health issues were asked about their finances, making this the biggest study of its kind, and providing a significant insight into the link between the two issues. Let’s have a look at some of the key findings from the study. 

The findings

A massive 70% of people questioned said that their health issue has a negative effect on their finances. Worryingly, 60% of people actually said that their mental health issue was the reason they borrowed.

A staggering 93% said they spend more when they’re feeling unwell, and 92% said they find it harder to make financial decisions. These findings show that mental health issues can sometimes make financial decisions harder and that people may find themselves buying items or borrowing money when they wouldn’t ordinarily do so. 

71% of people said they avoid creditors when they’re feeling unwell. When creditors are chasing you for debt you can’t repay, it can be stressful at the best of times. And with a pre-existing mental health issue as well, some people may find that symptoms of anxiety and/or depression can increase and they’re even more unlikely to contact creditors themselves or respond to any contact they receive. 

Of the people asked, 53% were left in a position where they could not manage their repayments and fell seriously behind with at least one credit agreement. 

One problem feeds another

The stats that have come out of this report can leave no doubt in our minds that there is a clear link between mental health problems and debt problems. 

The report is particularly interesting because it gives an insight into how people with existing mental health issues feel about money and debt. 

Whether you begin with the debt problem or a mental health problem, it’s clear that they often go hand in hand and can make each other worse. 

How to solve the debt problem

The Money and Mental Health Institute want the health and financial sector policy makers to recognise the research and keep the debt and mental health link in mind when they make decisions.

Hopefully, as more research is carried out into this area and the financial and retail sectors become more aware of the issue, safeguards will be put in place. The aim should be to help stop people suffering with a mental health issue from getting into unmanageable debt in the first place. 

While the credit industry is making changes, it’s important to know there is help available today. If you’re suffering in this situation, there are things you can do to positively impact how you manage your finances. 

No debt problem – no matter how bad – is beyond help. No matter how much you owe or how long it’s gone on for, there will be a solution that can help you. It may take time depending on the specifics of your situation, but one day you can be debt-free – you just need to get the right help. 

In some cases your creditors can reduce your payments so they’re affordable. In other cases, they may freeze interest and charges on your accounts. Or a debt solution might be the best option for you instead. If you’re not comfortable contacting your creditors yourself to discuss a way forward, you can seek support. There are companies out there designed to take over the whole process for you and give you the best advice possible. 

There is so much help available (on all areas of your financial life) from the Money Advice Service as well as various debt charities. At Debt Advisory Centre, our advisors are experts in helping people out of the quagmire of problem debt. They can look at your situation and tell you what solutions you qualify for, and which one will be the most suitable for you. 

Help with mental health issues

One of the reasons why people may find that debt and mental health problems are difficult to get to grips with is because of the stigma that surrounds these issues, particularly mental health. 

If you feel you’re at a crisis point, the Samaritans are available to talk to any time of the day or night on 116 123. Mind is also a great resource for general help and advice if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression or another mental health issue. 

Whether you need more help managing your condition, or you’re seeking help with a mental health issue for the first time, we would give the same advice - no matter how bad it is there is help out there. 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.