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

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  • Hi I work at the CAB as a debt adviser and the number of people that we see who have mental health problems has really risen in the last couple of years and also we are having to the deal with creditors whose attitude is that the client should not have entered into the agreement and not have spent the money and trying to explain that the person has mental health problems and that this is part of their condition is often meet with a reaction of pay the amount and tough :mad:

    A lot needs to be done and creditors still need to take more responcibility for this and realise that they are to blame with offering credit and not doing full checks.

    Thanks
  • I work for a local Mind Association and we carry out a lot of mental health promotion and awareness work. One of the things we are very careful of is to think about the language that is used. Mind produces a 'Getting your message across' document, while designed to help Mind employees use the correct language/wording when acting for Mind, it also serves as a good general framework for thinking about promoting a positive perspective on mental health. What to me would be important in any guide is ditching using language like ‘problem’; an alternative might be 'mental distress'. Language is always going to change and some terms more politically correct than others, but I personally feel that attaching the word 'problem' to mental health sends out an unnecessary negative image. I note that this is used in your post, so it would be worthwhile checking out the referred to document, which can be accessed by contacting Mind.

    It is very very encouraging for me to see groups like Money Saving Expert taking a lead on this subject. There are so many times in my support work where I have wanted such a resource, and when I finally came across this it helped me really inform my support, also through sign posting people to the site and emails. Cheers Martin and all involved.
  • My experience comes from my wife having severe mental health problems for 10 years. Part of getting out of the debt problem is getting what you are entitled to (and have in the past paid for), but I've had many months of delays and problems with her ex employer trying to get her pensioned early, and with the dept of Work and Pensions getting her Incapacity benefit. She can't fill in the forms in a sensible way so I must do it. She can't make a fuss to get action, so I must do it. The best way I have found is to establish from the start that you are the "carer" and send a copy of the care plan naming you, referring to it all the time, and enclosing copies in every letter. Even then mental illness is not given half the same weight as a physical diablement, though it is devastating.

    To save the family finances I have taken all my wife's payment mechanisms away from her. Not what I wanted to do, but the only way to survive as I'm out at work in the day and can't monitor her closely. If she does venture out without me she has to use what cash I give her. Callers at the door during the day are something to watch out for, and telephone sales calls. People with mental health issues can be very easily persuaded and gullible. Internet shopping is another problem.
  • Dear Martin and fellow forum members
    Like many of you writing on the subject of Mental Health and Debt, I too have shared at least twenty years living with depression and anxiety (severe panic attacks), experienced in varying degrees, requiring periodic reassurance from doctors, the occasional referral to a counsellor and the odd betablocker for good measure. Finally in 2004 I had a complete breakdown and took to my bed for nearly twelve months, wondering if I would survive to share the rest of my life with my wonderful husband, step-son and three teenage children. I had previously been able to hide my debilitating symptom profile from most people until that point but when I became so ill, making this impossible to continue, I was not only coping with my own truly "dreadful" illness, I was anxious and fearful of the repecussions this would have on my family. From memory (which is not always that hot these days - middle age, medication and over thinking takes it's toll!!) my children seemed to maintain amazing resilience towards it all and my husband (second) was, and continues to be, the best support system anyone could have wanted. He fought with me to get every treatment option available. I saw psychiatrists, psychologists, a nutrition guru, tried (what seemed) endless types of medication from every class available! and so on and so forth. Two years into my recovery I have four years of knowledge behind me. I am a big advocate of CBT and I have read countless books including autobiographies on the said subject. I have spent this year going for interviews to become a support, time and recovery worker and have finally been acknowledged as a suitable candidate. I am just waiting for the funding to become available for a post with the Early Intervention in Psychosis Team and I have a job!! But admist all this, like many of you other guys, lurks a myriad of stressful issues, past and present. Divorce, step-family problems; my husband and I ran a business for ten years which collapsed due to my ill-health coupled with the pressure of a large family....Since joining forces with my second husband and having a bigger than average family to look after we had nearly always relied on some form of credit. In the early days this was minimal and then it escalated the more established we became. Partly we wanted to "overcompensate" for the divorces the children had gone through but we also fell into the trap of the fashionable world of "consumerisum", the wanting to acquire lots of materialistic things to mirror what most others seem to be doing. But this of course is only part of the picture. I too, and unfortunately my hindsight leaves me frustrated and bitter, have used money and the ease of credit to appease my suffering and during the times of some relief would use it to overcompensate for the "crap" periods. We have settled our debts two or three times over from sale proceeds or similar but now, twelve years on, we are in a house with no equity and an IVA rounds our necks. We started the IVA at the beginning of the year and boy has this year been a test of my skills in positive thinking! The whole thing is a nightmare really. I wish we had not done the IVA in retrospect and just gone bankrupt! I can't guarantee I can take the strain of this for much longer - we just work like idiots to make sure we cover everything each month but our quality of life is not good. The point I am finally coming to is that I am determined to speak to all the creditors after Christmas and explain my circumstances and history and try to get the "break" I deserve. I am not going to let this drag me down again and having worked so damn hard to get into a proper recovery why should I now endure another few years of this pressure. Major depression and comparable psychiatric illness needs to be viewed seriously when it comes to financial difficulty. I have spent this year keeping the one only current account we are allowed in excellent shape and have learnt a very hard lesson along the way. But as for what has gone before, I am neither going to put up with being punished for another chapter of my life or let the whole thing drag me down. Don't forget the creditors have a major responsibility too for the mess everyone is in - who in god's name ever dreamt up the deadly credit card anyway??
    I am hoping, Martin, you will fight my corner and the corner of others in similar situations to me. If you can't do it, then no one can. Take care. Mrs J T (Shropshire)
  • SingleSueSingleSue Forumite
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    I had my first experience of depression just after having my eldest son, at first it was linked to post natel depression but I began to think that it was more connected to the guilt and worry I felt about not being able to return to my old job (things went slightly wrong during delivery) and ultimately, us losing our home to a repossession.

    I wasn't a very good patient to either the CPN or the doctor and would take myself off the medication on a whim or when I thought I was better...this carried on like this for many years never really getting sorted out but I was able to pretty much get a handle on the finances and became over adverse to spending.

    Then in early 2005, I had a breakdown and had to take sick leave from work for many months, in this time I just couldn't get my head around re-applying for our working tax credit or two of my sons disability living allowance (they both have autism, eldest is 'normal') which obviously had a knock on effect on our finances and ability to pay the bills. I just found it impossible to deal with the forms, speak to those trying to help and got this insane idea that people just wanted to meddle and pry into my business...all I wanted to do was hide away in the house and be invisible and couldn't see that they were trying to help.

    We did somehow still pay the bills but how we did I have no idea (most of that section is blanked from my mind) and once I went back to work, was able to regain our savings again pretty quickly only for me and my husband to split up a short while later.

    It has had an effect on me, I am now very credit adverse almost to the obsessional, every penny is counted and I get completely paranoid about running out. I have noticed that if my freezer is a little light on food, regardless of if I still have money in the bank, I get really stroppy and stressed about it and can be a trigger for me to start teetering over the edge of the cliff ready for the tumble down the other side.

    I still don't like the idea of anyone helping me out with my affairs and still get the paranoia about people prying into my business...part of me still wonders if I have actually completely recovered at times.
    We made it! All three boys have graduated, it's been hard work but it shows there is a possibility of a chance of normal (ish) life after a diagnosis (or two) of ASD. It's not been the easiest route but I am so glad I ignored everything and everyone and did my own therapies with them.
    Eldests' EDS diagnosis 4.5.10, mine 13.1.11 eekk - now having fun and games as a wheelchair user.
  • Is it possible for a template to be put on this site for those of us trying to sort out debts of mental health patients many of whom are just normal people and carers. At present my husband and I are trying to help my daughter who is curently on section, in hospital and not allowed a phone and yet orange will not cancel the agreement, will not help us due to ''data protection'' yet still keep adding to the bill even though they can see that it has not been used. This morning a credit agency contacted us to inform us that she owes 900 pounds and there will be bailiffs or equivelent coming around.
  • JDPowerJDPower Forumite
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    I feel ashamed for blaming my excesses on my illness, but I also must say that before I was medicated with Paroxetine & lithium I was scared of any type of credit or loans. Head meds, although very necessary, by definition, change the way you think, that is what they are for... Just because you are on medication doesn't necessarily mean you make the right decsions.
    Very good point
  • MSE_Martin wrote: »
    Mental Health Workers & Others

    How do you deal with debts when the person invovled doesn't want to deal with them?

    Obviously it depends on the type of mental health disorder but as a sufferer of chronic depression - I think there are 2 issues to be addressed:
    • the inability to take on the mammoth task of filling out forms etc for benefits, however, I currently am under the supervision of a Crisis Mental Health Team who visit my home and are very helpful and would, had I asked been more than happy to help me with forms or connect me with someone relevant who could; and
    • those who already have debts I would think the best course of action, again with the help of the Crisis Mental Health Team, would be to ask the creditors to freeze the debts until the sufferer recovered enough to be responsible for them.
  • AmesAmes Forumite
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    I just want to agree to the point about vulnerability to cold callers. I hate using the phone, I'm really scared of it. A few weeks ago someone called claiming to be from a charity I'd never heard of, and I just gave them all my card details. I told my sister who pointed out how stupid I'd been and I cancelled my card before anything was taken, but it could have been anyone on the phone and I'd have done it to get rid of them.
    Unless I say otherwise 'you' means the general you not you specifically.
  • I am a social worker and find the Age Concern Fact Sheets helpful for advise on managing money, the advise is often relevent for younger adults also.
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