The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute published research earlier this year showing that those with mental health problems are three times more likely to be in debt. Debt is often a major factor for those suffering with stress and anxiety and the two issues can feed into each other, creating a vicious cycle.
This week, in Mental Health Awareness Week, the VRS wants to highlight the link between mental health and debt and help to break down the stigma that people experiencing such difficulties are facing. It is, in fact, often referred to as a double stigma, in that both are issues that people are reluctant to talk openly about, but which are, frequently, deeply inter-connected.
There are, of course, many factors at play in people’s lives that can contribute to their overall wellbeing, but awareness of the role that financial stability can play is growing. Organisations working with vulnerable people have been drawing attention to the connection between the two problems, with recent Citizens Advice figures showing that 39 per cent of clients with overdraft issues have mental health difficulties, as opposed to 24 per cent of the group’s usual clients.
More action needs to be taken to address this situation, and stronger support in place to ensure that people experiencing mental health difficulties are at least able to feel in control of their finances, so that debt is not able to spiral out of control, impacting their mental wellbeing further.
The VRS has been set up to support vulnerable people who are looking to take control of their financial situation, or to work with organisations who are doing so on behalf of an individual. The VRS allows an individual to join the register for the duration of time in which they are facing a period of vulnerability, however long or short that may be. Crucially it will not have any bearing on future decisions about suitability for credit once removed from the register.
We believe that this helps to remove the stigma connected to mental health and debt, recognising that the statistics show that any one of us could experience financially vulnerability in our lifetime, and that it should not mean that we are judged for it, just supported through it.
If you are struggling to manage your debts, or your finances feel out of control, and this is either impacting, or a result of, your mental wellbeing, the sooner you take action the better. There are lots of excellent mental health and debt charities that you can contact, and the VRS is there to provide a supportive service for you when feeling financially vulnerable.