'The MSE guide to Mental Health and debt... nearly there at last' blog discussion

This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.


  • jnrm24
    jnrm24 Posts: 111 Forumite
    A relative had no option but to go bankrupt after being conned and not being able to do anything about it due to depression.

    We found that the CAB could apply to appear on their behalf at the bankruptcy hearing after providing a doctor's letter explaining that the pressure of attending would increase the risk of serious self-harm.
    This made things so much easier but the local CAB were not fully clued up about options other than bankruptcy or the process itself and made several mistakes so I would be reluctant to rely on them again.

    That said, they did get the hearing itself slotted in much sooner than the normal waiting list time, due to the health issues.
  • As a RMN in a particularly deprived area it is a topic I am asked about regularly and I know I have received publications from agencies in the past. There can be so many variants as to how and why debt has built up therefore any guide will be a welcome addition to the tools we can use to help!
  • This is brilliant news. Those who've been there know exactly the terrible feeling of spiralling anxiety as they struggle with mounting debt. It is exactly true that debt and depression go hand-in-hand and that the two feed from one another. It is also true that unconscious or barely conscious personal issues leading to low self-esteem can begin this spiral. Another factor is social pressure and expectation plus inappropriate or inaccurate [but commonly held] perception of the importance and meaning of success in material terms. Most of us feed into that to some extent or other except for a very few who deliberately opt out but are often seen as rather wacky. Once people have lost everything they worked so hard for they learn the more humane meaning of success, I think - the achievement of an aim be it just to get up in the morning, and the fact that the only people who really matter are those who you love and who love and accept you with or without the new kitchen, latest hairdo, manicured nails or latest car etc. Having said that it is wonderful when we are riding high and at the peak of our power and energy and achievement - but we still need to remember that our energy is finite and economic factors sometimes beyond our control. Thus never ever judge those who fall... I won't say fail as the word is so laden with negative associations and really not applicable anyway. Just remember to try to make decisions at all times with full consideration of possible consequences related to the amount of strain we put ourselves under when we say yes to buying something which puts us into debt. Financial education could be the most important preventative factor ever in the development of mental health problems. We can cope with much pressure and many problems but extreme financial worry is often the factor which makes it impossible to cope with anything.
  • I trust you. I'll wait. I've had so much help from you & the site & the forum posters already that it seems greedy to want it Now, but this is eagerly awaited.
    As delerium says, "any guide will be a welcome addition" - but your name has a recognition factor that will certainly help!
  • Erme
    Erme Posts: 3,597
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped! Debt-free and Proud!
    If you read any of my posts Mods you'll always find how I'm writing about mental health and debt. I got into debt from being told if I had debt I could have everything I didn't have as a child and I got good benefits and thus it happened...

    then I got really sick and the debts sky rocketed overnight. I literally thought that 'money grew on trees' and anyone who said any different was delusional. I consolidated debts lots of times (not that that helped) before finally digging my head out of the sand whilst on a free diet site about 2.5 years ago and discovering Dave Ramsey. I did his plan for about 6 months till I stalled. I got rid of the credit cards but when it stalled I had a DLA review coming up and I knew I had to get my act together...A few months later I tried a charity for a DMP (not even knowing the phrase DMP) and had a right struggle just to get my cigs on the DMP....eventually I got them after bawling at them whilst trying to quit one time and getting really ill. Cigs are hard enough to quit at the best of times - they're even harder on various medications used for mental ill health. If that was bad enough, they didn't tell me the downside of the DMP (or if they did they didn't prepare me well enough). The last thing I expected was the bank phoning in the early days of the DMP everyday wanting money. Eventually one weekend I came off the DMP and did my own plan with the bank.

    I got the DLA awarded again the day I came to some reasonable arrangement with the bank. I'd had so much stress and anxiety with the bank though it didn't sink in for a while. Part of me still expects to reapply any time....

    I still had elderly friends though on my case with unhelpful comments like 'if you smoke you can't afford to eat' (not helpful with a pseudo eating disorder due to stress) and I forget to mention that at the time I'd had the DMP I'd been depressed and completely unable to cook for self so had been relying on microwave meals (not cheap in any variety) So they took £20 a week out of my budget before I'd even started never mind coffee/tea/milk.

    One good thing did happen though with the DMP - I learnt how much I should be spending on things each week which really helped and adjusted my spreadsheet accordingly. I also got new bank account - just a basic no overdraft one with with a visa electron card for every day banking so I wasn't just feeding debt mountains and paid off debt every month out of that (which I continued to do even when below my overdraft limit...)

    This was in the autumn....in the february I found the MSE forums and in particular the frugal living challenge - which I hasten to add I've done abysmal at but it's been one of my main mentors - showing me ways to save etc. Within a week of starting FL I went from wanting an android phone on contract to thinking 'what do I really need out of a mobile' and then 'how can I get it for less than £5 a month' so actually downgraded my mobile this year and am happy and got it via e2save who have been fab with regards cashback. I will be going with them again when this contract is up for my mega cheap mobile contract :D

    But yet when I got sick and hospitalized in the summer the budget went out of the window. I didn't even do the spreadsheet for about 2 months and my monthly spend for everything bar debts, rent and CT went up by 50%....never mind the mega whoopsie spends that happen from time to time or 'buy three of everything before you settle on an item - just use it too much before you decide x is rubbish to take it back' which is another thing of my illness.

    I don't declare my illness to the banks etc unless I have to - it's none of their business.

    What I have learnt from friends and self by observation is the following
    • anyone can budget - even without a pc - you just need pen, paper & calculator
    • if your client can't budget - or at least keep a log of expenses - teach them before it gets too late. I hate the person who gets his fortnightly giro on a tuesday and by thursday he's wasted it all on drink/drugs whatever and is begging the poor granny down in the high st for enough money for bread.
    • it doesn't matter how much money you have or how little - the budget goes out the window when you're sick so save when well to avoid mega debt when ill

    Just my two penny worth...thanks to everyone who has and is supporting me on this site. Even when we disagree most of you are most kind and an inspiration

    I believe in the power of PAD
    Come and join us on the Payment a Day thread
  • Errata
    Errata Posts: 38,230
    First Post Combo Breaker
    Well done, and well done for using the expertise of some members and being steered by it in relation to the appropriate use of language.

    Speaking of which - I hope you're not going into the stocking trade and giving up MSE ;)
    .................:)....I'm smiling because I have no idea what's going on ...:)
  • Thank goodness! Please make it accessible to all. While I agree that everyone needs to learn to be as responsible as they can be in all areas, I am sick to the back teeth of financial lenders having no ethical conscience and not taking THEIR JOINT RESPONSIBILITY. How can it be ethical to keep increasing someone's credit limit when they are clearly unwell & are living on benefits and then bullying them into repayment plans they cannot afford? It really makes me cross.

    Last year I was working with someone (I work in supported housing for people with enduring MH problems) who had relapsed and was experiencing psychosis. He eventually came to me when he began to get well again & showed me the extend of his debts, which were substantial. He had repeatedly gone into his bank and requested, in person, they increased his OD which they happily did. Anyone could have seen he was clearly not well & was not in the position to be racking up this amount of credit when he was only in receipt of income support. Luckily we were able to write off the debt because of their unethical practices.

    I just did an assessment for a woman today with bi-polar. Until earlier this year she has been stable for several years, but had an episode in the summer and has racked up several thousand in debts and is now in the spiral of charges, doesn't have enough money to get to an even playing field to even begin paying it off. They are calling her daily and pushing her to agree to repayment plans she cand't afford, she has written to them, sent a letter from her psychiatrist stating she was ill at the point she was spending this money & was sectioned shortly after but they are not playing ball. So grossly wrong in my humble opinion, she is only just stabilising and needs to stay well and does not need this continual pressure on top of this. I can't wait to get stuck into dealing with this with her.

    People should be responsible - goes without saying. But when someone does not have the capacity to make those desicions then there is a responsibility on the provider to ensure the systems used to apply for credit are adequate.

    Having said that I have worked with people who do try to manipulate the system and have built up debts with no intention of paying & then have asked me to get it writtten off and in this circumstance I have said no, I don't think that is right & they have to learn to pay their way as everyone does.
    DF as at 30/12/16
    Womblng 2020:
    NSD Jan 2/18 YTD: 2
  • Please please please I passionately hope that Maritn has come across adult ADD/ADHD as this mental health (I hate using the word disorder) well it simply is sush a factor in many adults and simply not being able to handle money at all.
    Will this be looked at in your book?

    Many thanks

  • One particularly difficult problem with the money issue is that it's all too easy to go through life, failing to hold down jobs, letting people down, running into debt, losing homes and relationships, without seeing these as anything other than character flaws.

    One can go on for decades like this, internalizing one's inability to deal with money, and to persist in efforts to keep accounts and budget carefully, just as one can with all the other difficulties that seem to come from a lack of moral fibre or care for one's self and others.

    The very problems that lead to debt, such as impulsive decisions, or recklessness, or forgetfulness, don't fall into any kind of pattern until a breakdown leads to a diagnosis. One struggles on, making more and more of a morass for oneself.

    It's all too easy to be left with nothing on which to rebuild. There are then no obvious interventions, financial or otherwise, which can make up for all that has been lost. One cannot go back and make everything right, with all the people and institutions affected.

    By the way, "stocking trade" is not what you have. It's stock in trade.
  • Butti
    Butti Posts: 5,014
    First Anniversary First Post
    I wouldn't tell any professional that I have had depression. It was an issue between me and my doctor. I think there is still an immense amount of shame and misunderstanding about depression and the treatment of it. Mine was a kind of unwritten known, I made sure it didn't appear on my work record.

    Debt LBM (08/09) £11,641. DEBT FREE APRIL 2021.
    Diary 'Butti's journey : A matter of loaf or death'.
    Diary 2 'The whimsical tale of the Waterbed of Debt'
    48% off mortgage

    'one day I will be rich and famous…for now I'll just have to settle for being poor and incredibly sexy'. Vimrod Member of MIKE'S :cool: MOB
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