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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

 

Tools for workers


 

What is it?

The DMHEF is a collaboration between the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Money Advice Liaison Group (a discussion forum for money advice agencies and creditor organisations). 

 

The DMHEF aims to standardise the existing situation where creditors encounter individuals experiencing debt problems who self-report a mental health condition is affecting their ability to repay. 

 

In such situations, creditors (with customer consent) can request written evidence from a mental health professional who knows the customer. Alternatively, money-advisers can request evidence on the individual’s behalf to negotiate with creditors.

 

Critically, the DMHEF attempts to minimise the time and resources that providing such information can take a health professional, whilst improving the likelihood of effective creditor decision-making.

 

Why is it needed?

When taking debt recovery action, it is contended that creditor organisations who are owed money still do not adequately consider information provided about customers’ mental health.

 

This can result in inappropriate, mentally distressing, and sometimes illegal action being taken during debt recovery. Furthermore, where customers consent to creditors requesting information from health professionals, reported difficulties include:

 

  • variability in the type and amount of evidence requested
  • ambiguous instructions or unrealistic expectations concerning what information health professionals should provide
  • delays, refusals, or payment requests from health professionals to provide evidence
  • poor quality and irrelevant information for decision-making being returned
  • often heightened customer distress at an already difficult time.

 

Recent UK guidelines for creditors (including banks and debt collection agencies) and money-advisers on working with indebted customers with mental health problems have therefore called for a standardised approach which overcomes these difficulties, and which also meets legal requirements for communicating and processing sensitive personal data detailed in the UK Data Protection Act 19884. 

 

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