Debt is affecting our mental health, say three in four
Britain’s growing debt problems are causing mental health problems, relationship breakdown and family discord, Citizens Advice has said.
By Emma Simon
In a survey of people experiencing debt problems, three out of four said they had an impact on their mental health, while half said it was causing their work to suffer.
A majority of those surveyed said money worries caused problems with a partner, while one in three said they had a detrimental impact on their relationship with their children.
The findings from Citizens Advice come as a nationwide poll by YouGov suggests that one in three families will go into debt over the Christmas period. The survey suggests that as many as one in 10 lose track of their spending over the festive period and will rely on credit cards or overdrafts to fund spending. It is estimated that outstanding personal debt in the UK now stands at £1.4 trillion, including outstanding mortgages.
Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice said: “We are seeing a debt epidemic in the UK which is affecting people from all walks of life. Debt can play havoc with family relationships, work and mental health, which is why we are urging people struggling with money worries to visit one of our bureaus and get some free, independent debt advice.”
She said the debts of those surveyed typically ranged from £1,000 to £20,000, but one in 10 owed more than £30,000.
“Our advisers deal with nearly 8,000 new debt problems every working day so we know debt can play a strong part in relationship breakdowns, ill health and problems at work. It’s easy to understand why so many people try to ignore debt problems hoping they will go away, but that’s not the answer.”
In the 12 months to the end of September (the last date to which figures are available) Citizens Advice Bureaus in England and Wales helped with more than 2 million debt problems. This accounted for a third of all Citizen Advice inquiries.
Given the escalating debt problems for many families the Money Advice Service has started a consultation on how to improve standard within the debt advice sector. A recent independent review found that there was great diversity in the way debt advice is delivered, monitored and accredited.
Caroline Siarkiewicz, the head of the UK debt advice programme for the Money Advice Service, said: “In the current economic climate, it is vital that debt advice is always of the highest quality. When people look for advice they need to know they can trust what they are hearing and that the right people, with the right training, are helping them.”
Dealing with debt: top tips
• Take action as soon as you think there may be a problem. There’s a lot you can do to help yourself so don’t bury your head in the sand.
• Don’t borrow more to pay off your existing debts. It may seem tempting in the short term, but all you’ll do is leave yourself with even more to pay off.
• Look at which debts are most important, not who is putting the most pressure on you to pay. Prioritise debts such as mortgage or rent, council tax and gas and electricity. If you don’t pay these, you may be in danger of losing your home, having your power cut off or even ending up in court.
• Work out a household budget. You can use this to see where your money goes, where you could make savings and find out how much you can realistically afford to pay back each month.
• Contact your creditors. If they know you are having difficulty with repayments, you may be able to work out a manageable repayment plan.
• Shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your energy bills, mortgage payments and other essentials.
Get free, confidential, independent advice from your local Citizens Advice bureau. They will help you work out repayments and negotiate with your creditors, and also help you keep out of debt in the future. For more information go to the Citizens Advice website www.adviceguide.org.uk
Credit: Telegraph Newspaper < [http: //www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/borrowing/9755389/Debt-is-affecting-our-mental-health-say-three-in-four.html>