The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) has launched its latest report Help along the way, which looks at how free debt advice can be made more accessible to people with mental health problems.
According to its research, half of people in problem debt are experiencing a mental health problem. Common symptoms, such as difficulties communicating, impaired clarity of thought and reduced concentration or problem-solving skills, can make it difficult to engage with debt advice. MMHPI says it is therefore essential that the debt advice process is designed with people with mental health problems in mind, and delivered in a way which understands the challenges people with mental health problems can face.
The report sets out how the sector can better serve clients with mental health problems by highlighting:
- Common symptoms mental health problems, such as difficulties communicating, impaired clarity of thought, and reduced concentration or problem-solving skills can make it difficult for people with mental health problems to engage with debt advice.
- Many people with mental health problems are struggling to access much-needed debt support.
- With millions more at risk of distress and debt problems due to the pandemic, urgent action is needed to ensure those with mental health problems can easily access the free debt advice they need.
Key recommendations include:
- With mental health problems common among those seeking debt advice, the debt advice process should be made more accessible for all clients.
- Debt advice providers should communicate with clients in an accessible way, providing them with information, options and well-equipped advisers to meet their needs.
- Regulators and funders of debt advice, including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), should ensure the regulations and funding that shape how debt advice is provided recognise the challenges faced by both people with mental health problems and the debt advice providers supporting them.