The link between mental health issues and debt

It’s estimated that 1.5 million people in the UK are dealing with mental health issues and debt at the same time. And in a recent survey carried out by the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, those with mental health issues are up to 3.5 times more likely to also struggle with debt.

The survey looked at data from 7500 individuals in England. It found that there was a strong link between mental health and money problems, with conditions like bipolar disorder and depression showing a very strong link, and OCD sufferers being up to 6 times more likely to have debt problems.

Among people with no mental health conditions, only 1 in 20 are affected by debt. However, a quarter of people with depression are currently in debt. In light of this, campaign groups are calling for more support to be offered to anyone affected by these two issues.

One of the causes of the link could be that depression makes it much harder for someone to manage their finances due to symptoms like tiredness, low mood, and lack of concentration. In addition, worrying about money in itself is one of the leading causes of stress, which is one of the risk factors for depression.

In particular, payday loans have been under the spotlight recently for the impact they have on mental health and wellbeing. In a survey, it was found that payday loan borrowers were more likely to be affected by depression and anxiety; they were also more likely to feel guilty, ashamed, or angry.

In an interview, Helen Undy, the institute’s chief executive, said: “When you’re struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety – so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives. Yet despite how connected these problems are, financial services rarely think about our mental health, and mental health services rarely consider what is happening with our money.”

Groups are now calling for the government to provide more protection to those suffering with mental health problems to stop the problem from spiralling. For instance, one of the suggestions is that banks and lenders should have obligations to make sure customers with poor mental health get more protection and are offered help finding the fairest deal.


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