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Halifax and Bank of Scotland awarded 'Mental Health Accessible' accreditation as they improve services for vulnerable customers

Halifax and Bank of Scotland have been recognised for their treatment of customers suffering from mental health problems by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute MMHPI. 

The two banks, which are both part of Lloyds Banking Group, have been awarded 'Mental Health Accessible' accreditation by the charity, which was created by founder and chair Martin Lewis. The Mental Health Accessible programme is designed to get essential services providers, such as banks, energy suppliers and water companies, to understand the challenges that customers with mental health problems face using their services.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) said the accreditation comes after an assessment into how accessible Halifax and Bank of Scotland's services are for customers with mental health problems. The two firms join Lloyds Bank in being the first two of three banks to be given the accreditation.

The charity said the two banks have taken steps to make their services more accessible. They have both been awarded an 'Essentials' rating, which is the first of three levels firms can achieve in the Mental Health Accessible programme. But both banks have committed to further action - see below for more on this.

For help if you're struggling, see our free Mental Health & Debt guide.

Both banks have pledged to make their services more accessible and supportive for vulnerable customers

In response to the MMHPI's feedback, both Halifax and Bank of Scotland have made changes to their services to make them easier for people with poor mental health to use. These include:

  • Supporting customers to know what to expect when they contact the bank with money worries, by including more online information and guidance.
  • Offering colleagues a specialist tool, so they can signpost customers to external organisations that can help them with financial and mental health problems. 
  • Making their communications to customers with debt problems more empathetic.
  • Giving customers a range of ways to manage their accounts, such as by telephone, webchat, email and letter, in order to provide greater choice and flexibility. This will particularly help customers who struggle to use some communications channels. 
  • Offering customers a 'Trusted Person Card', through which they can allow a third party to withdraw cash and make purchases on their behalf and in a secure way.

The MMHPI has also given Halifax and Bank of Scotland an action plan to help them make further improvements — for example, making it easier for colleagues to support customers with mental health conditions by providing them with additional tools and information. It is now calling on more essential service providers to join the Mental Health Accessible programme.

What does the MMHPI say?

Helen Undy, chief executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: "We’re delighted that Halifax and Bank of Scotland have recognised the barriers that people can sometimes face, and have taken serious steps to address them through the Mental Health Accessible programme.

“We're also urging other businesses to work with us to ensure their services are as accessible as possible. With more people facing financial worries as the furlough scheme ends, and rates of depression having increased during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that everyone can access the services we all rely on.”

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