Mental Health and Debt: Mental Health Workers & Others Feedback Needed

in Debt-Free Wannabe
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  • bathgatebuyerbathgatebuyer Forumite
    2.5K Posts
    In my experience debt and depression are two horrid sides of the same coin. Depression makes you unable to contemplate anything outwith the here and now. I knowt hat I could not think beyond the end of each day. being at work was about thinking about getting to the end of each day and trying to hold it all together from day to day and counting down the minutes to the weekend. Then when the weekend came, I would 'reward' myself for having had such a crap week by spending on my credit card. I bought so many things to 'cheer myself up' that it literally ran into thousands.

    Only through counselling did it reveal that a large part of this was due to my upbringing and a feeling of being different from all the other kids because we didn't have the nice things they had. To feel good about myself when i went back home, I wanted to have a nice car, nice clothes, nice gadgets that I could through in the faces of my former schoolfriends so they would all look at me and see me as a success while really I was trying to buy myself some happiness. It's a difficult thing to explain, but a large part of it was probably a cry for help, wanting people to see me as a success when they'd treated me like dirt all the way through school.

    I'm reading a book at he moment called 'Affluenza' which suggests that the increase in depression and mental-health issues is so closely allied to debt because of the way that people in the 21st century are judged by the car they drive, the home they live in, the labels on our clothes, and very rarely by who we are as people. It's a great book and examines a number of different cultures across the world and how this affluenza virus is impacting upon everyone in various ways. I'd recommend it to whoever is doing this study.
    Almost debt-free, but certainly even with the Banks!
  • The difficult thing is when you finally breakdown and can no longer look after yourself properly.
    Last year, I fell apart and couldn't work, clean up, eat properly or dress myself. Because of this I couldn't pay bills or rent and trying to get your benefits because you're on SSP is difficult at the best of times. I ended up going back to work too soon, because my council tax bill had gone to a debt recovery place. I've now completly left work so that I can recover properly.
    I couldn't remeber what day it was let alone when I needed to pay things by. I'm getting better but I have about £3000 in overdrafts because my benefit wasn't covering what I was paying out.
    I never splashed out on anything, I just couldn't answer the phone or speak to people.
  • hi ive suffered from depression for almost 12 years due to things which happened in my childhood

    and yes im in debt i cant open post or even answer the phone ive had a team called the crisis team helping me through a very bad patch of depression and my partner has had to give up work to look after me and our kids

    when he contacts creditors they dont listen to whats going on they just want there money we even tried to activate our payment insurance as he gave up work we thought this would help while i recover but in every case its not covered due to my partner not getting a careers allowance from dwp as i only get the lowest part of dla...

    i can d normal things when i have the energy and can get out of bed but this is not often surly the way creditors deal with mental illness's needs to be changed and also the rules for the insurance if my partner got careers allwance payments would be payed even the jobcentre told us were not entitled to benefit as he gave up work volenterily which he didnt he had to it was a case of give up work of have the possibily of lsing me and his kids summin needs to change
  • I've suffered on and off with depression and anxiety for 10 years. I had a nervous breakdown after escaping from my violent husband. We were in extreme debt - all in my name! I was offered no help by any services and all the gp did was prescribe pills. I ended up overdosing as I couldn't cope. Obviously I survived. I had a second breakdown at the start of 2008 and am still suffering. Reading the threads today, I've never made the connection between spending excessively and my illness, until now. What a revelation! I've found services hard to access, even when I've struggled to go out to get help; I gave up going to my GP months ago. I was sent back to work full time long before I was ready to cope; I've ended up nearly losing my job and the only way to save the situation was to agree to do 16 hours a week - I'm still struggling even doing that. Trying to get help with benefits has been a nightmare. Its taken a whole year to get someone to even talk with me face to face and even then I don't know if I'll be able to claim. If I can't, voluntary redundancy will be my only option, for the sake of my health and my finances! I hope I speak for all of us who suffer - if the help was there and easy to access, we'd gratefully take it - however it seems that services are overstretched and its impossible to find or get help when you need it most.
  • I have some knowledge of debt and depression. Not sure what came first to be honest, luckily i can say the debt has gone - alot thanks to this site, and whilst not medicated for the depression do suffer mild bouts from time to time, triggered by certain things, silly things. I find keeping a diary of my bad days help then on a good day looking back and seeing how silly the bad things were, in hindsight most are only worth laughing at and not getting so upset over.

    Anyway in a financial sense as not really sure what this thread was really asking for I would like to add that if you medically disagnosed with a mental condition your GP or consultant may confirm you to be "severely mentally impaired" and if you are in reciept of DLA/Incapacity bens you may qualify for a reduction in your council tax, (if you live alone its a 100% exemption). This doesn't mean that its only applicable to unemployed people, employed persons may be eligible if they recieve the right level of DLA and confirmation from their GP/consultant. You need to contact your local council - council tax dept, ask for an application form which should be no longer than a couple of pages, this is then completed and returned to them by you with proof of the qualifying benefits, they then contact your GP/consultant for confirmation and which date the condition arose (date diagnosis took place) for the council to assess and reduce your charge as applicable. Some councils will backdate and others may only go back to the start of that financial year - but worth asking. There is also no restriction as to age limits other than they must be over 18 (eg you cant apply for a child under this age).
    This could be applied for many conditions inc Aspergers, bipolar, alzhiemers, dementia etc.

    Hope this helps.
  • This is specific to Scotland......

    I work in Social Work, and we often refer people (more often than not with mental health problems) to our money advice service which is part of the welfare rights team. They are able to offer a home visiting service which I think is very important to this particular client group.

    Great idea for a guide.
  • Mental Health issues appear to be on the increase and I wonder if you can understand why this is the case. So many retailers bombard our conscious minds with options, that we can't cope with all the information and make snap decisions that we later try to support or ignore -too difficult!

    A great deal of research was carried out by George Miller that allows us to understand more clearly the abilities of the conscious mind. The research found that we can hold 7 pieces of information in the conscious mind, plus or minus 2, at any one time. Therefore, each individual, at any one time, can hold between 5 and 9 pieces of information dependant on their own abilities. If we are trying to process more than 9 pieces of information at any one time we become confused and feel pressurised to make a decision - too difficult. The natural reaction at this time is 'fight or flight'

    If you want to remain in control of any situation and can accept your abilities you can do it. A conscious effort to find more time to allow the decision process to flow is achievable. In a moment, you might want to clear your mind so you can feel the experiences you will get after reading the text in the following two paragraphs.

    'The double burger'
    Imagine bringing to mind an image of yourself entering a fast food outlet that sells burgers. You notice and remember everything that is taking place. You see all the people in the clothes they are wearing and their hairstyles and jewellery and their expressions. As you continue to watch what is happening and focus on the back of the queue and read the large print displayed beneath the bright pictures of the burgers with all the different prices that are too small to read. As you shuffle forward you continue to view everthing and also hear all the sounds of all the conversations and orders being called and the metallic noises from the kitchen and the people shuffling forward behind you. As you see and hear everything the salesperson wants an answer to: Which burger, How many, with cheese without cheese, with onions without onions, with bacon without bacon, with relish without relish, with chips small regular large super size with drinks which drinks regular or large, family meal deal might be cheaper without.. HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW


    'The single burger'
    Imagine bringing to mind an image of yourself entering a fast food outlet that sells burgers. Prior to entering the outlet you decided how much money you would like to spend. When you are inside the front door of the outlet stop and check you have the financial means to proceed. Once you are sure how much you would like to spend move with intent and grace to a position that will allow you to be static and thoughtful without intrusion for a short period of time while you view the selection on offer. Read the information for each burger slowly and one at a time. Evaluate deliberately. Will you want chips and how many? Will you want a drink, of what and in what quantity? How much will it all cost? I wonder if I can save a little more money by buying into a meal deal? Check each meal deal and evaluate. Compare the evaluations. Join the queue. Greet the salesperson and smile. Make the order, collect and seat yourself. You can now choose to engage, in some way, with the other diners.

    The difference between the feelings experienced at the end of each paragraph might now be obvious. 'The double burger' saturates our conscious mind and makes us want to stop reading because we can't cope with so much information in one go. The single burger follows a step by step process which allows us to make conscious decisions in accordance with our ecology.
  • Admitting you have a debt is one thing but to admit to a debtor (or indeed anyone else) you have a mental health issues can be frightening.Mental health problems are still quite a taboo subject. We're moving in the right direction but people are often too afraid to admit they have mental health issues for fear of being judged or discriminated against.It's bad enough, for example, ringing up an energy company to resolve a problem when you are well. The advisers the other end are often unsympathetic, unhelpful, not friendly and just an anonymous person in some far away call centre. When you are "unwell" however, this type of phone call goes from being something you're not that keen on doing to something that completely and utterly petrifies you. It can take all your strength to just decide whether to get up that day, let alone deal with extra stress.
  • Hello Martin
    My brother has mental health problems following a stroke-he is very vulnerable. He qualifies for Disability Living Allowance (Middle Rate Care) and is therefore entitled to Severe Disability Premium. What the DWP does not advertise is that if the claimant moves house the SDP is stopped and you have to reapply for it despite the fact there might be no break in your entitlement. My brother was obviously not aware and neither was I until the benefit stopped.
    Hope this helps
  • eadiebeadieb Forumite
    238 Posts
    I am a Housing Support Worker and my job is to work with vulnerable people who are in housing crisis or those moving into new homes. Mainly this has been people in Social Housing but now we work with people in Private Rented, Bed and Breakfast, Homeless, Temporary Accommodation and home owners. I completed a Community Mental health care city and guilds and have worked with lots of people with schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar, personality disorder etc. I visit people in their own homes on a weekly or monthly basis for up to 2 years.

    When I first start working with someone I carry out an assessment of their overall needs and Finances and Debts and money management will be included. Invariably the person will have a financial problem and this may be one of the main reasons that their home is currently under threat. this would usually be my first priority - find out why the rent or mortgage is not being paid. Most of the people I work with are on benefits, and the answer will usually be that they have large rent arrears because their housing benefit is not being paid. So my work then quickly moves to resolving why the housing benefit has stopped. the reasons vary widely but frequently it is because the person has failed to supply a piece of information to the council, or they have not managed to apply for a benefit, or something happened to their claim which has caused a gap in their claim. A person may need motivating to get the missing information and help getting it to the council or someone to make phone calls on their behalf to find out what is going on and what needs doing to resolve the situation. A person with mental health problems may find ploughing through this sort of situation so incredibly difficult that they just cant face dealing with it alone. It can be incredibly complex. I then frequently get into sorting out other benefits like incapacity benefit and the new EA? benefit just started. Helping people claim Disability Living Allowance and making formal benefit appeals.

    We then proceed to fairly standard income and outgoings assessements and list these and list all debts. Work out if the person has enough income to cover the debts, and work through which are the priority debts and which are 'non' priority. (priorities are food, water, electric, council tax, court fines,tv licence, clothes, rent etc) A person who is vulnerable may be more likely to pay money to a doorstep lender such as Provident, than their electric or water bill, simply because the lender will constantly come round to their front door. For some people, if it is obvious that their debt repayments to non priority creditors, are so far beyond the persons income that they are advised to stop making payments to these companies/creditors and seek urgent advice from any of the free debt advice organisations. What then happens is that these companies/creditors will have a campaign of trying to recover their money by ringing the person several times a day, coming round their homes, etc. A person who is vulnerable may find this very difficult to cope with and will need support in dealing with this. If I ever have to do appeal letters or write to creditors, I would (with the persons permission) include that they are vulnerable because of their mental health and are seeking help in sorting out their finances and ask them to hold off action.

    Our next area would be income maximisation which can simply be claiming correct benefits, getting the person onto different electric/gas/water tarrifs. (e.g we keep a list of which suppliers are currently offering discounts to people on low incomes or benefits). Sometimes it can help if the person changes the way they are using their electric, they may have economy 7 but are using other heating appliances during the expensive day rate because they are confused about working their economy 7 heaters (this is surprisingly common). People on benefits need to double check whether they are getting reduced benefit payments (e.g income support) because they are having direct deductions taken from their payments. If they do have direct deductions then they can phone the DWP and double check that these are all still valid. As an example, I recently had someone who was sent a letter saying that a debt was going to start being deducted, it was for £500. She tends not to read through any such letters and had shown it to me. Eventually we found out it was a mistake and was someone completely differents debt which had mistakenly been added onto my clients income support claim. Also, there are many cases of council tax, rent, water debt deductions still being taken, when the debt was paid off a long time before. There are also lots of charitable grants that can be applied for to independant charities, and to your water company or electic or gas company. Sometimes they write off huge amounts of debts if you apply to them so you can get a fresh start.

    I work for a Housing Association, but our service is funded through Supporting People Funding which is managed by our local council. People wishing to use our service can either ask their CPN or Social Worker or any other involved agency to refer or can self refer. the local council housing department manage all the referrals and I guess this might be the case around some of the country, or they could point someone in the right direction of how to access support services. Particularly if your debts are putting your home at risk. for our service you dont have to be involved with the mental health 'system' to use our service (you dont have to have a cpn or be under treatment). it may be that your local mental health services will know about a similar service in your area but dont count on it. You might find info on your local authority website.

    From my experience of taking clients to our local Citizens Advice Bureau, they get very expert advice whilst there but they need to have gathered proof if income for the first visit to assess legal aid, compiled all their paperwork, made the phone call to arrange the appointment (usually 3 to 4 week wait) and will probably need to make return appointments, usually with the appointments being booked up for the next 3 weeks. And remember their follow up appointments. Someone who is in either a chaotic state or depressed state, is unlikely to manage this alone.

    One final thing (as I am ramblin on and on) always get your benefits checked out. If you have gaps in your claims, then it may be posible to appeal and get benefit backdated, do not rely on benefits advice from only one source e.g what a customer services person at your local town hall office tells you, may not be entirely correct. I might even venture that sometimes the information you are given about your benefits by the DWP may not be correct. Benefit law is very complex and there are many grey areas. Find out if your area has a Disability Advice Service or Mental Health Benefits worker, as they may be more experienced to give specialist benfits advice. Disability Living Allowance is a very very important benefit and needs a lot of time spent on completing the extensive application forms. If someone helps you fill one in and it takes less than half an hour, I would think your chances of getting it are slim. You need to repeat yourself throughout the form, writing as much as you can possibly think of. If I am doing a DLA form for someone then my average is 4 to 6 hours spent completing it over several visits.

    I hope something here will be of use.
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