People worried about debt, housing and unemployment can get support from a new NHS helpline launched today.

NHS Stressline callers will receive information and help from trained health advisers. If suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, they will be directed to a wider package of financial and mental health support services.

The Department of Health says debt can be a cause and consequence of mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety and depression, but often people do not know where to seek help.

The opening of the helpline comes at a time when many suffer from post-Christmas money problems.

Millions affected

The department says nearly half the population were worried about money and debt in 2009, a quarter of those with mental health problems experience debt, but a third of people do not seek help.

The Stressline number is 0300 123 2000 and it is open daily from 8am-10pm (see the Debt Problems guide).

Phil Hope, care services minister, says: "The NHS Stressline is there to help improve people's mental and financial wellbeing.

"Whether it's practical advice, emotional support or the first step in getting treatment for depression, it will give people real help to tackle their money worries."

'Trigger wider problems'

Paul Farmer, head of mental health charity Mind, adds: "Money worries and fears about job security have the potential to trigger mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

"When people are faced with piles of bills and deep emotional despair the future can seem bleak and it can be difficult to know where to turn for advice.

"We would encourage anyone experiencing these difficulties to contact the NHS Stressline for support and advice."

Further reading/Key links

Get help: Debt Problems, Mortgage arrears and Redundancy guides

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NHS Stressline opens