RCPsych finalises joint research programme on debt and mental health

Statement / comment
10 May 2023

We've joined forces with Mental Health UK and Dr Chris Fitch, Vulnerability Lead at the Money Advice Trust, to develop a research and intervention programme on debt and mental health, culminating in a guide for use by health and social care professionals across the country.

Recognising that mental health and money problems often go hand in hand, the guide ‘Final Demand’ encourages health and social care professionals to ask the people they’re supporting about their financial circumstances, helping them to access free debt advice before they reach crisis point.

New survey data published today by Mental Health UK has revealed that money worries are leading to suicidal thoughts and panic attacks in people living with severe mental illness amid the cost-of-living crisis.

More than half (51%) of people severely affected by mental illness experienced suicidal thoughts and 53% experienced panic attacks prompted by money worries.

Over two-fifths (41%) reported a relapse, while almost a third (31%) had to increase the dosage of their medication.

The ‘Final Demand’ resource, provides advice for health and social care professionals around how to provide practical support for people facing problem debt who are managing mental health problems, and signpost them to specialist help.

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“People living with a mental illness often live under financial strain. They are more likely to have less income and more financial hardship and debt than those living without a mental illness.

“Whilst problem debt may be a result of experiencing mental illness, it is also a cause, and can worsen and prolong it as well as delay recovery. Ultimately, debt may have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families.

“Psychiatrists, along with many other clinicians, are intensely aware of this and each day see the effects of financial hardships on their patients. Clinicians can play their part in helping their patients’ who are in problem debt but need the collaboration of a range of other bodies including money advice, financial and social care organisations.”

You can find out more about financial support and debt advice In our mental health information section.

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