16 Sep Have you Been Hit by Debt?
Debt and mental illness often come as a package; some people spend compulsively to fill an emotional need, others might be unable to control spending urges. It is also estimated that 50 to 90 per cent of people in debt are suffering with depression or anxiety and that the occurrence of debt is five times higher in people with mental health issues than in the general population. Depression also impairs the individual’s ability to tackle their debt head on and to cope with the demands of work, creating a vicious circle that can quickly spiral out of control.
With both debt and mental illness carrying a stigma, it is not surprising that many people, particularly men, clam up and withdraw from those around them, to the detriment of their relationships.
Finding a Way Out of Debt
That’s the bad news! Fortunately, debt is a practical problem that has a practical solution, and there are agencies (e.g. National Debtline and the CAB) that are there to help. For example, did you know that if you have a mental health issue you can call your bank and ask to speak to those responsible for dealing with vulnerable people. They will then have to follow certain procedures to support you, for example by not using debt collection agencies and avoiding court action.
As with many psychological problems, the first step is to recognise and accept you have an issue. Then you will need to share the burden by talking to other people.
Michael Acton-Coles is here for anyone experiencing mental health issues and can help you to put your debt back into perspective and explore any underlying issues. Bursary support is normally available for those who need it.