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Around 1.5m people in problem debt may have a mental health issue

A report from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute shows that 46% of people in problem debt in England also have a mental health problem, which equates to around 1.5 million people.

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The policy institute’s report, published today (July 23), states that urgent action is required to ensure people in distress due to money problems can access “life-changing” debt support in the pandemic’s aftermath.


The charity also reports that of the 1.5 million, many in this group experience common symptoms of mental health problems which make it much harder to find and engage with debt advice, such as difficulties communicating, impaired clarity of thought and reduced concentration.


The institute reported that frontline debt advisers say they need more training and less bureaucracy to better support people affected by mental health and debt problems. According to the report, debt advice challenges are exacerbated by a “one size fits all” approach within the debt advice system.


Based on a survey undertaken by the institute of 280 people with experience of mental health problems, who have tried to access debt advice, the report highlights three key challenges:

  • Knowing where to turn in the first place due to lack of clear information;
  • Getting support that reflects people’s mental health;
  • Finding a workable long-term debt solution.

The institute, which Martin Lewis founded, is calling on debt advice providers to make it easier for people with mental health problems to access support. It is also calling on regulators and funders of debt advice to address the barriers that people with mental health problems face in accessing this support.


Katie Alpin, interim chief executive of Money and Mental Health, said: “With millions more people facing debt problems and distress because of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that people can access debt advice in a way that meets their needs.:


“The support can be life-changing, but too many people with mental health problems are missing out. The challenges of dealing with poor mental health, and the inflexibility of the debt advice system, can make it almost impossible for people to get the help they need with debt problems.”

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