'Financial problems and mental health issues are locked together — it’s about time treatments were linked too', urge Martin Lewis and charity
More joined-up mental health and debt support, especially during the cost of living crisis, has been called for by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and its chair and founder Martin Lewis. Providing money advice alongside mental health support could double recovery rates for people struggling with debt and depression and help an extra 27,000 people each year, according to the charity.
In its new report published today, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) has asked the Government and NHS England to provide money advice alongside NHS Talking Therapies — the flagship programme for mild to moderate mental health problems, which treats over 1.2 million people each year.
The MMHPI's analysis suggests that doing so would dramatically improve recovery rates, reduce waiting times and generate significant savings for the public purse.
It comes as new research from the charity has found that the cost of living crisis has had a significant impact on people suffering from mental health issues. It says that six in ten (60% of) people with recent mental health problems said they have felt unable to cope due to rising costs, yet fewer than one in ten (9%) have received money or debt advice since the crisis started.
People who have suffered with mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, in the past two years are also three times as likely to be behind on at least one important bill, says the MMHPI.
If you're struggling, download our free Mental Health and Debt booklet.
Martin Lewis, founder of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity and MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "The cost of living crisis shows no sign of abating, and even if it does the fallout will last years.
"Financial problems and mental health issues are locked together, it’s about time treatments were linked too. We’d urge the government and NHS to take swift action to ensure those struggling with their mental health and finances get the support they need – and cut costs for the state at the same time.
"For many years therapists, mental health nurses and social workers have told us they often spend substantial, valuable clinical time helping people with their finances. It makes more sense to leave debt help professionals to do that and take some pressure off the NHS, letting clinicians focus on helping people get better.
"This isn’t about big changes, it’s a case of ensuring that when someone goes for support for their mental health, they can walk down the corridor and get money advice too. Or if they’d prefer to get money advice online or via telephone, removing the stress of having to book appointments. That would make a huge difference in helping people to deal with mental health and debt issues, and to get on with their lives.
"And when you throw in the potential economic gains of helping more people with mental health problems back into work, these reforms are a no-brainer."
Financial support should be offered alongside mental health treatment
Here's what Martin and the MMPHI are calling for in more detail:
- Everyone receiving support from NHS Talk Therapies should be asked about their financial situation during their initial assessment for the programme. This would help professionals to routinely identify those struggling with money issues and help them to access advice.
- Money advice services should be located on the same site as NHS Talking Therapies services. Everyday tasks can be much harder for those experiencing mental health issues, so co-locating both support services would help to make money advice more accessible.
- Where co-location isn’t possible, or where people prefer telephone or online advice, professionals working in Talking Therapies services should actively book appointments on behalf of people. This would remove another barrier to money advice for people experiencing mental health problems, who may struggle to book appointments themselves.
The MMHPI's analysis suggests that these reforms could bring more positive outcomes for people experiencing depression and debt, doubling recovery rates from 24% to 51%. It would also increase the recovery rate for people with anxiety and debt from 41% to 53%.
What does the Government say?
A Government spokesperson said: "Our network of employment advisors provide money guidance to clients with depression and anxiety already receiving treatment from NHS Talking Therapies services. We’re working with the Money and Pensions Service to integrate further signposted sources of financial advice."