Mind fears for those treading the poverty line
Posted Monday 12 December 2011
New research from Mind has found worrying numbers of people with mental health problems living below the Government-defined poverty line1 as they struggle to cope with managing their money. The mental health charity surveyed people with experience of mental distress who are currently in debt and found that almost half were living on less than £200 per week.
In the run up to Christmas, Mind is encouraging anyone with mental health problems who might be struggling financially to reach out and seek help and has produced a new guide on money matters.
- 45% of respondents were living on below £200 a week, rising to 54% among those in problem debt*.
- Over 80% often felt they were struggling to manage their finances, rising to 95% among those in problem debt.
- Almost 75% thought that their mental health problems had made their debt worse. This rose to over four-fifths among those in problem debt.
- More than three fifths of all respondents, and three quarters of those in problem debt, reported often feeling confused about their finances.
- Three out of five often avoided opening bills, with four out of five of those in problem debt reporting the same.
The charity has worked with the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) to produce a Money and Mental Health guide that offers financial advice and signposts readers to sources of help and support.
It has been distributed to GP surgeries, Citizens Advice Bureaux and local Minds across England and Wales. It can be downloaded for free and people can get more information and advice from the Mind infoline on 0300 123 3393.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
The tough economic climate of the past few years has meant that we’re now hearing from an unprecedented number of people who are living on the breadline. Everyday people with mental health problems are making tough choices between paying bills and putting food on the table.
People with experience of mental distress are three times more likely to live in debt and poverty3 and are now being further squeezed by cuts to benefits and shrinking support services. It has been very worrying to hear about the uphill struggle they face to manage their finances and the huge toll this takes on their mental health.
At the heart of Mind’s campaigning work on debt and mental health has been our commitment to supporting people with mental health problems to develop financial capability. We’ve already had great feedback about the Money and Mental Health guide we’ve produced with RBS’ support and I hope that it will go on to help thousands of people get on top of their money worries, improving their peace of mind.
Steve has depression and lives with his partner. They have £125 per week to cover bills and outgoings:
Everything is a constant battle. We dread the electricity bill coming in. The money will come out of our benefits so we’ll have to watch our budget for food. We don’t go out, we can’t afford it. We have a car but if the bills go up we won’t be able to keep it. So then we won’t be able to get out at all.
Then if you’ve got a mental health problem too, that is another 100% of extra burden on you. Sometimes you feel you’re going to crack up, I have to take time out from it otherwise I’d lose it. I panic every day.
Simon Watson, Head of Community Affairs, RBS, said:
Managing money can be a daunting task, this coupled with a mental health illness can often make this task even more complex. By making the ‘Money and Mental Health’ guide widely available, RBS and Mind hope to support as many people as possible living with a mental health illness, and help them to take positive steps towards keeping their financial affairs in check.
At RBS we are committed to better supporting customers with mental health issues and we will be training our staff to give them a greater understanding of the issues.
* Problem debt defined as when an individual is two or more consecutive payments behind with a bill or repayment.
(3) Office for National Statistics, 2001
Notes to editors:
- Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress. www.mind.org.uk
- For more information, interviews or case studies please contact the Mind media team on T: 020 8522 1743 M: 07850 788514 E: firstname.lastname@example.org ISDN line available: 020 8221 0817
- Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
- RBS’s partnership with Mind aims to raise awareness of the issues of managing money and mental illness and how banks can look to support customers who are affected by this illness
- RBS funded the production and distribution of the ‘Money and Mental Health’ guide
- The training programme which RBS mention in the release is a partnership with The Royal College of Psychiatrists, Money Advice Trust and Rethink Mental Illness. Together they are designing and delivering a training programme for RBS collections staff as well as the rest of the industry.