Posted May 19, 2023
Our Director of External Affairs and Partnerships discusses the link between mental health and debt and the importance of accessible support
Last year, we helped more than 140,000 people through National Debtline and Business Debtline and, after seeking advice, 9 in 10 clients saw their debts reduce or stabilise.
The positive impact of seeking advice, however, goes beyond the financial - 7 in 10 of the people we helped said their mental health and wellbeing improved after seeking advice.
This Mental Health Awareness Week we want to recognise the life changing difference speaking to someone about debt and mental health can make, and to highlight some of the free resources available to help.
Debt and mental health are often closely linked, and our advisers at National Debtline and Business Debtline regularly hear first-hand from people whose financial situation is having a detrimental impact on their mental health and wellbeing. For many, the existence of one impacts the other, which can make a difficult situation even harder.
It’s vital we do all we can to identify and support people with mental health conditions who are contacting our services, including ensuring they are able to access further support if they need it.
To help with this, we have partnered with Mental Health UK’s Mental Health and Money Advice, to offer telephone casework to our clients who need this, as part of their National Debtline journey. This means that people who contact National Debtline and need additional help can be referred across to Mental Health and Money Advice, without having to provide the details of their debts or circumstances again. Through the casework service, they can access:
- Support with welfare benefits and income maximisation – as well as help with applying for benefits and Trust funds.
- Help accessing social care – such as the costs of social or residential care and financial assessments.
- Capacity support – including help navigating challenging contracts, power of attorney and appointeeship.
This partnership forms part of the wider service enhancements we are making, as we deliver new Money and Pensions Service contracts for national and business debt advice in England.
While support is available, we know that many people may not know how or where to access it. To help health and social care professions to address this, our Vulnerability Lead Consultant, Chris Fitch, has recently worked with Mental Health UK and the Royal College of Psychiatrists on an updated version of Final Demand: A guide for health and social care professionals. This aims to help colleagues in the health and social care sectors talk to people about their financial circumstances and to support them to access free debt advice before they reach crisis point.
Training for advisers and creditors
Debt advisers, and staff at creditor organisations, are on the frontline of supporting people with mental health conditions who are facing financial difficulty. Ensuring they have the tools and knowledge to do so effectively, while also looking after their own wellbeing, is crucial.
Through our Wiseradviser service, we offer training to advisers across the debt advice sector through free e-learning and virtual classroom sessions– with a number of courses focused on supporting people with additional needs, including with mental health conditions.
We will soon be launching a new supervisor skills webinar series, with the first of these putting the spotlight on mindfulness. We’ll also be launching a new Wiseradviser e-learning course, ‘Understanding and Supporting Clients with Mental Health Conditions’. You can find out more on the Wiseradviser website.
For creditor organisations, we are running a free webinar with Cruse Bereavement Care on “Supporting customers with mental health difficulties”, taking place on 14th June. You can sign up to attend here.
As well as more detailed training courses, we have a number of free guides available to help firms and essential services providers support people experiencing mental health problems disclose their condition and access support.
We hope these resources will help firms and debt advice agencies to deliver the right support to their customers with mental health conditions all year round, and we will continue to work to tackle the link between financial difficulty and mental health.
If you are worried about your finances, free, independent and confidential advice is available from National Debtline, and for small business owners Business Debtline is there to help people struggling with business debts.
Jane Tully is the Trust’s Acting Deputy Chief Executive and has served on the charity’s Senior Leadership Team since 2014. She leads our work on policy, communications, marketing and research. She previously worked for the Charity Finance Group, Charity Commission, NSPCC and local government. View all posts from Jane Tully.