Financial wellbeing is a critical part of mental health and we recognise how economic stresses can have a devastating impact on someone - which is why Mates in Mind is rolling out new financial wellbeing education resources over the coming months.
Through our partnership with the national charity StepChange, which provides the UK’s most comprehensive debt advice service, helping people with debt problems take back control of their finances and their lives, we hope to offer people specialist support and reassurance through these difficult times.
Do you feel awkward when you talk about money? Are you scared of being judged, or that people will treat you differently?
Recent client polling from StepChange Debt Charity revealed that over 55% of their clients waited more than a year to get debt advice, and 92% agreed that if they could go back in time, they’d get advice sooner. Not only that but they’d also actively encourage others in a similar situation to act quicker, before stress levels or mental health worries worsen.
For many individuals, a certain ‘tipping point’, like an emergency expense or sudden change in circumstances, is often the time when the financial reality hits home. For example, you may have had your hours reduced at work, stopped working due to illness, taken time off to care for a loved one or been made redundant. These sudden changes to your life can cause a lot of anxiety and have a significant financial impact, especially if you’ve never had to deal with them previously.
Talking about money can be a daunting experience for anyone, but you don’t need to dive in headfirst – start as big or as small as you like. The most important thing is that you start.
Accessing free debt advice
Against the background of the ongoing cost of living crisis, StepChange are expecting many more will need help over the autumn and winter months, as the energy price cap rises and the some may be forced to choose between heating and eating.
Most individuals who suffer with debt problems have more in common than they realise, one being that they often want to pay their debts off but can’t.
If you think you may need help, it could be tempting to take a cue from the ostrich and bury your head in the sand to avoid your debts. Unfortunately, pretending your problems don’t exist can cause a lot more harm and stress than seeking support. Getting out of debt is a long-term project, so it’s important that you face it sooner rather than later.
When you choose their free debt advice service, StepChange will work with you to assess your situation and suggest next steps. They can:
- Help you plan a monthly budget to stick to, to make sure you can afford your food, home, and energy costs
- See if there are ways you could increase your income
- Explain what would happen if you didn't pay your debts
- Tell you which of your debts are more important and need to be paid back more quickly
- Help you understand which options, called 'debt solutions', are available
Continuing the conversation
We know that being in debt can be an isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. By bringing our money problems into the light, we can save ourselves – and each other – from making bad decisions. If that conversation becomes more regular, those benefits will continue to grow with time.
Talking openly about money is vitally important for our health, wealth, and relationships. It can help us make better and less risky financial decisions, strengthen our personal relationships, and reduce stress and anxiety as we start to regain control.
StepChange understand what it feels like to be in debt and know how to help. If you’re worried about your finances, use their 60 second debt test, or their online debt advice tool to understand what debt solution they recommend.
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