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

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Debt collection and mental health


How can banks and debt collection agencies improve the way they work with customers with mental health problems?

Half of UK adults in ‘problem debt’ have a mental disorder. Yet banks and debt collection agencies often find it challenging to work constructively with indebted customers who have mental health problems.


Working with 1,270 staff based at nineteen creditor organisations, the Royal College of Psychiatrists conducted the first national survey of how debt collection staff work with such customers. Our research identified what the challenges were, and highlighted the good practice already taking place.


In addition, the College also undertook a qualitative research study with creditors and money advisers about the collection and use of medical evidence from health and social care professionals in cases where indebted customers reported a mental health problem.


Training for creditors and collectors

Find out more about our elearning and face-to-face training for creditors here.  


This has been developed in partnership with the Money Advice Trust and Rethink, and is based upon the fndings of our recent research.

Detailed information

Title: Tackling debt, mental health and financial inclusion.
Funded from 2009 to 2011 by the Friends Provident Foundation.


Debt collection report





Read the reports






National survey

Every 30 seconds, staff working in UK debt collection will have to make a business decision: how best to recover a debt from a customer who says they have a mental health problem. Dealing with these situations can be challenging for frontline staff and the organisations they work in.


This research outlines ten changes that can help frontline staff overcome these challenges, allow organisations to collect debt more effectively from this customer group, and also help improve both the financial and mental wellbeing of the customer at a difficult time.


Based on research with 1270 frontline staff, in 19 creditor and debt collection organisations, and in association with the major trade membership organisations, the report provides a previously unavailable insight into the challenges and business opportunities facing creditors.


Qualitative research

This report presents the findings from research on the use of the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF).  The DMHEF is a standardised form with seven basic questions which creditors or money advisers can use when:


• an individual discloses a mental health problem to a creditor or money adviser;


• the individual reports that the mental health problem has negatively impacted on their ability to repay or manage their debts;


• creditor or money adviser staff have asked for clarification on how this impact affects their ability to repay or manage their debt;


• but unresolved issues, complex circumstances, or doubts remain;


• where additional information – or what is usually referred to as medical evidence - from a health or social care professional who knows the customer is needed to decide the action creditors should take;


• and where the customer gives their informed consent for such an approach to be made.


The DMHEF has been developed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG is a forum that brings together creditors and money advisers), in collaboration with creditors, money advice agencies, and health organisations.





For further details contact Chris Fitch


Return to 'Debt and mental health' main page


Health Services Research, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 4th Floor Standon House, 21 Mansell Street, London E1 8AA    





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