Mental health and debt

Mental health issues and debt can go hand in hand and the Coronavirus pandemic has caused people a lot of extra stress and financial challenges. We are all in a similar boat and for some, they feel like they are sinking into the debt abyss, if you are one of them, you are by no means alone.

It is predicted that Britain is to suffer the worst damage from the Coronavirus of any country in the developed world according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

This is temporary!

However, it’s really important to remember that our current challenges associated with the pandemic are temporary. Whilst there has been a surge in anxiety, depression and suicide, help and guidance are still available through different channels – online, via text, skype, Whatsapp and social media etc…

**If you find yourself really struggling with mental health issues and it’s an emergency to talk to someone, call 111 to get assistance from the NHS.**

Can you relate to Gary Peterson?

A debt counsellor does not judge a person, they offer advice and a coping strategy to someone who has temporarily lost control of their finances. A lot of our customers are struggling financially and mentally, especially at the moment. Take Gary Peterson for example who has permitted us to share his thoughts.

I have been signed off work for the last month due to my mental health. I am worried about my future but at the same time, I am numb inside. I feel like there’s nothing much to live for and there’s nowhere to go from here. So many things that made me happy and able to be strong to live my best life have been taken away from me. I understand it’s not permanent but as the weeks go by it feels like it.

I can’t do the team sports that I loved doing and, even worse, I can’t hug my family. Just like many people, the holidays that I have booked are cancelled. I tried to work from home but it proved to be impossible for me. I’m depressed, subdued and I’ve lost motivation to do anything. I have anxiety attacks, mood swings and I’m now on medication.

I have kept exercising but I miss the team spirit and friendships I have at the clubs that I belong to. I have spent more money on food and drink and I’m on statutory sick pay now. I am really struggling to pay my bills and I’m having to use my savings which I have worked long and hard for.

I don’t want to be like this. That’s why I decided to talk to people who can help me.”

Gary couldn’t cope with his life challenges, it was too much for him so he got help from the relevant people.  He spoke to his doctor, talks to a therapist and has a support network made up of friends and family who know about his struggles. Gary has started to understand what triggers his negative thoughts and overspending and tries to avoid certain situations now. Things are looking up for Gary but it will take time for him to settle his mind and his debts. 

Gary’s situation isn’t unusual, there are a lot of people suffering, especially now. If you are one of them, do what Gary did, talk to someone.

 

Living with debt…

Not all debt is bad for example a mortgage, a student or car loan. In most cases, bad debt comes from continual overspending on things that you don’t need to function in everyday life but with knowledge and discipline, this can be curbed and the bad debt paid off.

I know, it’s easier said than done…

Getting control of finances and mental health can be tough. The Coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been enough to make the most stable of people go stir crazy. Most of us have just about had enough now, we are frustrated, we have missed our friends and family and are on continual tenterhooks about our future. 

You need to know…

We want you to know that debt problems can be solved no matter how dark your debt tunnel is, it may not be quick and easy but there is always a way by asking for help. 

Do you feel unable to deal with the matter of sorting out your debts?

We all have issues and insecurities but for some, like Gary, they have to live with conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar
  • Mania 
  • Schizophrenia 

Those issues could be a result of:

  • Debt
  • Abuse
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Separation
  • Redundancy
  • Other unfortunate situations

People who suffer from those conditions may struggle to communicate, they may be embarrassed and feel like they can’t even consider trying to deal with financial issues. 

If you are someone like that and you feel you aren’t capable of decision making you can ask someone you trust to take over dealing with your financial situation. This is common practice when someone has a degenerative disease, had a stroke or losing mental capacity. If you are concerned, you can nominate a friend or relative to be power of attorney, so long as they agree and this is normally set up before an unfortunate situation deteriorates. 

Power of attorney…

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness and cannot make your own decisions (you ‘lack mental capacity’). Find out more here.

When mental health becomes a disability…

Find out more about how the government can help you when mental health becomes a disability. A mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on your normal day-to-day activity. This is defined under the Equality Act 2010. Find out more here.

Financial support from the government…

If you need extra financial help you can apply for a PIP Personal Independence Payment. Help you with extra costs if you have long-term ill-health or disability. Find out more here.

Self-help…

Isolation and social distancing have heightened anxiety and loneliness. We’ve really missed things that we have taken for granted such as:

  • A hug
  • Holding hands
  • Being intimate
  • Curling up on the sofa together
  • Physically comforting someone when they are upset
  • Attending a celebration whether that be a birthday, wedding or party
  • Sharing popcorn in a movie, sitting in a theatre or going for a meal with friends

Now, with the introduction of the ‘bubble’ concept from the government, more people have the opportunity to reconnect with society and loved ones. Most shops are opening and soon we will be able to visit a pub or even go to the cinema.

There isn’t a ‘one answer for all’ when it comes to coping with mental health issues, people respond to coping strategies in different ways.

There is plenty of help available and different forms of self-help are advisable, for example:

  • Relaxation techniques – Tai Chi, yoga, meditation or Reiki
  • Good sleep
  • A healthy diet
  • Socialising with people
  • Reading
  • Listening to music
  • Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Giving up smoking
  • Giving up gambling

There are also action plans such as WRAP or courses that you can do online or in a group such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

The WRAP action plan

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan or WRAP is an evidence-based self-help tool designed to promote wellness. It is a process that anyone can use to get well, stay well and make their life the way they want it to be. It was developed in 1997 by a group of people who were searching for ways to overcome their mental health issues and move on to fulfilling their dreams and goals. It is now used extensively by people in all kinds of circumstances, and by health care and mental health systems all over the world to address all kinds of physical, mental health and life issues. Find out more here.

CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. Find out more here.

Control your finances to help put your mind at rest…

During this worrying time, the government has tried to help people and businesses with financial support such as:

  • The furlough scheme
  • A grant for the self-employed
  • New style allowances
  • Mortgages have been frozen
  • Landlords have been unable to evict tenants
  • Lenders and creditors have been asked to offer a payment holiday to their borrowers

Looking for debt advice can be daunting, start by talking to a debt counselling company who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Seek expert advice and don’t try to deal with debt alone. The debt help company will carry out a review on your case and give you all the information you need to find the best debt solution for you. They can help you deal with creditors, bailiffs or any other major concerns that you have.

If you decide to deal with mortgage lenders, loan or credit card companies yourself, make sure you:

  • Look on their website to see what information they give about customers not being able to make a payment
  • Look to see if there is a ‘support’ system set up for people who are struggling
  • Make use of a ‘chat’ facility to get quick answers
  • Tell lenders your concerns and see what options are available. Some are sympathetic and will help their customers

If you find the businesses that you have to deal with are treating you unfairly you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Financial Ombudsman for advice.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau

The Citizens Advice Bureau give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem. Their network of charities offers confidential advice online, over the phone and in-person for free. Find out more here.

Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service is a free and easy to use service that settles complaints between consumers and businesses that provide financial services. We resolve disputes fairly and impartially and have the power to put things right. Find out more here.

Gary Peterson – sometimes the smallest things can make a massive difference to someone’s state of mind…

Gary explained that a friend of his did something that really helped his mental state at his darkest moments. A simple gesture that has been a big distraction and given so much pleasure – access to SKY sports. That meant so much to Gary and I don’t think his friend will ever understand how valuable that gesture was.

Remember, we never really know what is going on in people’s heads so if you can be anything, be kind.

Contact us today if you need debt advice. A phone call may be all you need to get you on your road to recovery.

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