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Debt and Mental Health

How To Stay Happy When You Are Struggling With Debt
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Having money problems can be the cause of serious worry and stress for anyone but when debt and mental health issues are mixed, this can be a particularly tough combination. For those with mental health issues, either long standing or caused by financial problems, it’s especially important that you seek the right help and advice. If you’re suffering or know someone who is, this information can help you assess your priorities and start dealing with the financial issues.

It’s never the end of the world

Whether they’re the cause or a result of financial difficulties, mental health issues are often suffered by those with debts. All debt problems can be resolved, however serious they might appear at the time. If you have a mental health problem, you might not be able to look at the route forward and see a way out of the crisis. By taking one step at a time, you can make small advances towards clearing your debts. It can be a sensible idea to leave any major changes until your health improves.debt and mental health

Facing the problem

This is the first step to tackling debts, but those with metal health issues might not have the motivation to sort this out themselves. If it’s possible, confiding in a friend, relative, GP or psychiatrist could help. However, if you’re not ready to admit your difficulties to someone you know the Samaritans (Tel: 08457 90 90 90) offer a confidential service and their advisors are trained in both mental health and financial problems.

Not all debts are a problem, but if you’re struggling to make the monthly repayments then it’s time to start taking action. One of the most important points is not to take on any more debts. It can be a vicious cycle of borrowing more money to finance existing debts, but this will simply stop you paying off what you owe. Set yourself a budget and see what you have left after your essential outgoings. Look at clearing the most expensive debts first, rather than spreading the payments equally.

Check what you’re entitled to

When you’re suffering from a mental health condition, you might be entitled to additional benefits which would increase your available income. The Personal Independent Payment is available, which isn’t means tested and those in work could still be eligible. The actual amount you receive is assessed on an individual basis and will depend on your exact illness and any additional care requirements you have.

Access free help

You should never pay for debt advice or get free help from a profit based business. There are plenty of options available from organisations that are designed to help you solve your debt problems, rather than making money from you. Talking to someone who’s experienced in debt advice will make you see that you’re not on your own and they offer invaluable advice and support.debt and mental health

As well as providing general debt information, individual organisations have additional support for those suffering from mental health conditions. Christians Against Poverty (www.capdebthelp.org) can send advisors to your house if you’re not ready to meet elsewhere or talk on the phone. They also provide a befriending service for those who have problems due to lack of support or isolation. StepChange (www.stepchange.org) is a debt advice charity and they can offer additional help for those clients who require it, including assistance with completing forms and checking benefit eligibility.

If you have difficulties talking about your financial problems, there are also free online tools that could help you make a start. StepChange has a Debt Remedy tool on their site, where you don’t have to provide contact details and it’s quick and simple to complete. It can also look for signs of depression and then starts the behavioural therapy tool, which will suggest you contact your GP if the issue is serious enough.

Help from financial institutions

You might want to consider informing your bank or lender of your mental health problem. It could help if there are notes on your file, but there might also be issues further down the line due to discrimination. It’s important to talk to your debt counsellor or healthcare professional before you do.

Once a bank is aware of an issue they need to make adjustments according to the Equality Act 2010. You’ll be entitled to 28 days to find paperwork and lenders will try and collect debts themselves rather than forwarding it to an outside agency. Most banks will have a specialist team who can help you work through your debts.

If you or someone you know has mental health and debt issues, starting to tackle them is the most important first step. There are plenty of organisations out there who can help or just provide someone to talk to.

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About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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