Helen Undy, Chief Executive, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
2022: Despite everything, you've helped us make a difference
16 December 2022
I hope that at some point I will get to write an end of year round-up blog that doesn’t begin by reflecting on what a difficult year it’s been for so many people. But sadly this is not that year. The cost of living crisis has already hit hard, and we know that the fear of what’s to come will be overshadowing the festive season for many people.
So it’s really all the more remarkable that, in such a difficult year, so many of you have found the time and energy to support our work, to feed into our research, to share your stories, to advocate for change or to make it happen directly.
Over 2,000 new people signed up to join our Research Community this year alone, sharing their personal experiences of money and mental health problems to help us drive the change that’s needed.
Hundreds of people attended our events to hear first-hand about our research and recommendations, and discuss how to make it happen. Over 130,000 of you visited our website to download the research or read our blogs.
And millions of you saw our work on TV, in the news or shared it on social media and helped us to get the message out. And it really did make a difference.
Campaigning for change
As part of the cross-sector coalition which we helped to establish last year, we celebrated two wins in our campaign to strengthen consumer protections against online scams. Firstly, in March the government announced it was acting on our call to include scam adverts in the remit of the Online Safety Bill, and secondly in June it agreed to strengthen the Bill’s requirements for search engines to act on online scams.
In February the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) announced that it is increasing the allocation of funding for face-to-face debt advice by 50%. This followed our media campaigning (alongside campaigning by frontline debt advisers), highlighting that MaPS’s initial plans for recommissioning debt advice services in England would result in a significant cut for face-to-face debt support.
Improving consumer protections and action in the health system
Our work has led to protections being strengthened this year by a range of regulators, whose role it is to protect people from harm when they are using essential services. That includes the Competition and Markets Authority launching an investigation into pressure selling online – something our research has exposed as particularly harmful for people with mental health problems.
It also includes changes to the financial regulator’s new ‘Consumer Duty’, including better links to their vulnerability guidance, the Equality Act and other changes to strengthen protections for people with mental health problems.
And finally, it includes improved guidance from the telecoms, water and energy watchdogs to ensure that firms take account of the needs of people with mental health problems, and of the mental health impact that their letters and other communications can have.
We’ve also seen our work leading to changes in the health system and with the numerous financial services firms that we’ve worked with hands-on to help improve their products and services for customers with mental health problems, reaching over 60 million customers in total.
I am so proud of our growing team, and grateful to our trustees, advisory board, Research Community and our wider network of friends and supporters. On a personal level, I am genuinely always overwhelmed by your generosity – whether it’s Rob sharing his story (twice!) on Good Morning Britain, Rachael speaking in Westminster at the launch of our research on ‘levelling up and mental health’ or Dan drawing on his own experiences to co-author our set of best practice guides for firms on supporting disclosure of mental health problems. Your help, whether it’s sharing our work or being part of it, really is what’s made the difference.
Thank you from me, and on behalf of the millions of people that the changes we’ve secured will help. I know Christmas is tough for many people, and will be this year more than ever, but I hope you can take a moment to feel proud of the part you’ve played – and we’ll see you on the other side as we kick off some exciting new work in 2023.
P.s – If you’d like to be even more involved in our work next year, take a look on our website for opportunities to join our team.
You can find information about organisations that can offer support with mental health problems and finances here.