Mind has just signed up to the #StopTheCharge campaign run by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute. Helen who is the Head of External Affairs there has blogged for us about why she thinks it is so important.
"People with mental health problems and debt are being charged up to £150 for a doctor’s note required by their creditors to prove that they have a mental health condition and should receive extra support.
At The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute we’re campaigning to #StopTheCharge, and we’re delighted to have Mind’s support. I’m blogging today to ask if you’d be willing to help us too.
If you have a mental health problem that affects your ability to stay on top of paying your bills your creditors will often ask for medical proof before they can offer support.
The creditor industry and advice providers like Citizens Advice have agreed a single form – called the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form – which people can ask their doctor or another mental health professional to fill out.
Once creditors have received this form, they often offer easier payment terms, cancel charges or interest, or might even write some debts off altogether.
But our research found that up to a third of people who need this doctor’s note are being charged for it – even though they are in serious financial difficulty.
And without the completed form, creditors often press on with enforcement.
These charges are resulting in people going without essentials or getting further into debt.
We know that GPs are under pressure and may not consider the implications of making someone pay to sign such a form.
But this form isn’t like holiday vaccinations or insurance claims. It’s only used by people who are struggling with both a debt crisis and a mental health problem.
Charging a fee risks making mental health problems worse.
Together with Mind, Rethink, StepChange and others we’ve written to Jeremy Hunt and the Health Ministers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland asking them to stop the charge.
Please join the campaign and add your name to our letter - It isn’t fair that people with mental health problems are so often left to a life of financial difficulty, by working together we can stop that.
You can also sign up to join our Experts by Experience panel. The panel took part in the research that underpinned this campaign - we couldn't do it without them, and we'd really love you to be part of it."
We know that debt can have a huge negative impact on someone's mental health.
If you are struggling with debt or money issues in general, our information may be able to help.
You can also call our Infoline on 0300 123 3393, text 86463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on where to go for support and services in your area.