Saving warning: Poor mental health can ‘worsen’ Britons’ debt issues | Personal Finance | Finance


This follows a recent survey carried out by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) that found that three-quarters of adults in the country have had their mental health negatively impacted by the pandemic. The polling, conducted by YouGov, revealed that 77 percent of those in debt, or at risk of debt since the coronavirus crisis began, admitted their financial issues had exacerbated their mental health issues. Furthermore, 30 percent of people surveyed said it had affected them a “great deal”, while 47 percent said it impacted them a “fair amount”.

Former analysis from CAS had previously shown that 600,000 people encountered debt problems in Scotland.

The country’s financial problems are not forecast to get better anytime soon due to rising inflation and energy bills.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, CAS financial spokesperson Sarah-Jayne Dunn shared how poor mental health and debt issues often overlap and feed into each other.

Ms Dunn explained: “Many people with mental health issues face inaccessible support when seeking assistance with their financial difficulties.

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“Advisers across our network highlighted cases where services would only provide online application processes with no alternative route for vulnerable clients.

“Additionally, there are instances where clients with mental health and money issues aren’t advised of additional support they could be entitled to, including even potential income maximisation support.

“This in turn can worsen their debt situation and further exacerbate their mental health issues or poor mental wellbeing.”

The poverty expert also acknowledged there are a variety of organisations and bodies which can step in to help people who are most in need.

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She added: “These instances highlight the vast amount of missed opportunities to disrupt the vicious cycle of money and mental health problems.

“There are a range of players from governments, employers, financial services to the mental health system itself who can all play their part in breaking this link and ensuring support is available and accessible for those dealing with money and mental health problems.

“Citizens Advice Scotland would like to see these policies built on which specifically support people with mental health issues trying to deal with their financial difficulties such as managing their money or problem debt.”

On top of this, Ms Dunn urged both the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Social Security Scotland to create policies which specifically assist those who suffer from poor mental health.

The expert said: “This would help break this link by ensuring people with mental health issues get the right support at the right time.”

One course of action which would demonstrate this change is to introduce a Mental Health and Money Charter.

“The Charter would set out a baseline of principles highlighting the minimum standards of someone experiencing mental health and money problems from a creditor, whether public or private, when seeking support with their financial situation.

“It would bring a clear focus on the connection between mental health and money as well as providing practical guidance for firms and public bodies on how to achieve these minimum standards.”

On top of this, she also recommended assistance for debt can be offered via the NHS when people seek help initially.

“For someone with poor mental wellbeing or mental ill health, dealing with unaffordable debts can feel unsolvable but accessible, free debt advice can be transformative,” Ms Dunn said.

“For this to be effective, debt advice should be presented to people with mental health issues during the recovery phase of their mental health journey as a non-clinical intervention.

“The NHS and government could play a vital role by commissioning services which offer money advice within local mental health support settings.”



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