Life-saving warning: Poor mental health can ‘aggravate’ Britons’ debt problems | Personal finance | Finance

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This follows a recent survey by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) which found that three-quarters of adults in the country have seen their mental health negatively affected by the pandemic. The poll, conducted by YouGov, found that 77% of people in debt or at risk of debt since the start of the coronavirus crisis admitted that their financial problems had exacerbated their mental health problems. Additionally, 30% of respondents said it affected them “a lot”, while 47% said it affected them “quite a bit”.

An old CAS analysis had previously shown that 600,000 people were struggling with debt in Scotland.

The country’s financial problems are not expected to improve any time soon due to rising inflation and rising energy bills.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, CAS financial spokeswoman Sarah-Jayne Dunn explained how 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 help for their financial difficulties.

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“Advisors in our network have highlighted instances where services would only provide online application processes with no other avenue for vulnerable clients.

“Furthermore, there are instances where clients with mental health and money issues are not informed of the additional help they may be entitled to, including even possible income maximization help.

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

The poverty expert also acknowledged that there are a variety of organizations and bodies that can step in to help those who need it most.

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

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

“Citizens Advice Scotland would like to see these policies built on specific support for people with mental health issues who are trying to cope with their financial difficulties, such as managing their money or debt problems.”

As well as this, Ms Dunn urged the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Scottish Social Security to create policies that specifically help those with poor mental health.

The expert said: ‘It would help break that link by ensuring people with mental health issues get the right support at the right time.’

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

“The Charter would establish a basis of principles outlining the minimum standards of a person suffering from mental health and financial problems from a creditor, whether public or private, when seeking help for his financial situation.

“It would clearly emphasize the link between mental health and money and provide practical guidance for businesses and public bodies on how to achieve these minimum standards.”

On top of that, she also recommended that debt help could be offered through the NHS when people seek help initially.

“For someone with poor mental wellbeing or poor mental health, coping with unaffordable debt can seem overwhelming, but free, accessible debt advice can be transformative,” Ms Dunn said.

“For this to be effective, debt counseling 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 in commissioning services that offer financial advice in local mental health support settings.”

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