Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Mentalhealth - THE HIDDEN FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Mentalhealth - THE HIDDEN FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN LEWIS TWEET ME @MARTINSLEWIS

MENTAL health issues and debt are a marriage made in hell - and one of the biggest and most hidden financial problems affecting the UK.

The statistics are horrific: You're four to six times more likely to have debt crisis if you have mental health issues; half those seeking debt help have mental health issues and the treatment time for clinical depression can be 18 months longer for those who also have financial worries.

Breaking this relationship has been a passion of mine, so I have launched the new Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (www.moneyandmentalhealth.org.uk).

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT? THE financial services sector has improved its attitude and procedures towards mental illness. So the Policy Institute's focus is prevention and solutions, and lobbying to get them in place.

Two ideas we're looking at, both based on spending sprees, which are common with bipolar disorder and depression: Credit freeze: Allow people to voluntarily put a freeze at the credit reference agencies, so they can't apply for new credit within a set time - say 30 or 90 days - giving breathing space if your decision making ability is temporarily impaired. High-control account options: Go abroad and debit and credit card firms freeze accounts if they detect unusual spending. Why not allow people to voluntarily apply that to all spending? Then their card could be cut off for a set time, unless an approved friend or health case worker agrees it should be unfrozen.

Of course there are many other conditions too, such as dementia, which require other solutions (see www.moneyandmentalhealth.org.uk/join-ourresearch-panel/).

FOR now, here are some tips from my free Mental Health and Debt Booklet at www.moneysavingexpert.com/mentalhealth. 1. Speak to a non-profit debt help agency. …

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