A new analysis revealed that people with mental health problems are more likely to fall into deep debt compared to those without mental health conditions.
In particular, the link between spiralling debt and mental health issues was strong among those with bipolar disorder, depression, or obsessive compulsive disorder, the study said.
In fact, people with obsessive compulsive disorder were six times more likely to have money problems, as explained by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.
As a result, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, which is an independent charity in the United Kingdom that conducts research on such matters, is calling for greater protection for people in these situations.
About 1.5 million people in the UK are struggling with mental health and debt issues at the same time, the institute claimed.
“We’re here to change that,” the institute said in its website.
The Link Between Crippling Debt And Mental Health Problems
In a study, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute analyzed data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, which recorded responses from 7,500 people in England.
Someone who was suffering from debt and mental health problems was Debbie who lived in the West Midlands.
According to Debbie, when she developed depression after the death of her father, her debt spiralled. When she felt low due to depression, she would use her credit card to go out and buy something. Often she bought items she didn’t really need.
Eventually, her debt incurred into a total of £70,000 (more than $92,000), which was a result of credit card, store card, catalogue debt as well as travelling expenses for a low-paying job.
The survey analyzed by the institute said that one in every four people in England like Debbie were suffering from “problem debt,” compared to one in every 20 people who did not have mental health conditions.
Symptoms of depressions, such as poor concentration and low moods, often affect how people manage their finances.
Helen Undy, chief executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said when a person is struggling with mental health issues, it will be harder to stay at work or manage spending.
At the same time, being in debt causes stress and anxiety, so these issues feed off of each other. This creates a vicious cycle which can destroy lives, she said.
How To Help Those In Debt
Despite all these interconnected problems, Undy said financial services rarely think about people’s mental health, while mental health services rarely consider what is happening to patients’ finances.
With that being said, the institute believes there is a way to change that. In fact, the institute says service providers have the power to improve both the emotional and financial well-being of customers. This can happen by introducing new tools, settings, and process that help people with mental health problems manage their finances well.
Undy called on the government to create policies that dictate the standards for providers of services, ranging from banks and energy suppliers to debt collectors. This should be offered to those with mental health difficulties.
According to Huffington Post, the government is already consulting on changes to improve protection of consumers across the country. The institute says it plans to boost support for customers with mental health problems, which includes helping them avoid debt from banks and energy suppliers.
Photo: Mario Sánchez Prada | Flickr