Haylie Page, External Affairs Intern, Money and Mental Health
Introducing: Haylie Page
24 August 2020
I will be taking on the role of the External Affairs Intern here at Money and Mental Health for the next six months, working across all areas of the institute’s external affairs. This includes campaigning, communications and digital events.
It is certainly a unique experience joining a new organisation during such an unprecedented time. A lot of the regular introductory experiences — like office tours or getting to know colleagues over a cup of coffee — have been stopped or gone virtual.
But, despite these challenges, this role is an opportunity to contribute to the vital and meaningful work of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute — which is becoming increasingly more important as the country faces the economic fallout of the pandemic.
I have a background exploring the shared relationship between financial difficulty and mental health problems.
During my time as a Masters student at University College London, I focused the topic of my dissertation on Welfare Reform — particularly Universal Credit — exploring the complex relationship between welfare policy changes and the mental wellbeing of claimants. Through this experience, I gained a real understanding of the vicious cycle between financial difficulty and mental health problems that so many people face across the country.
Before this, my passion for policy change around human rights and the protection of vulnerable groups — particularly those in poverty — was built on through work experience. In my time working as an Intern for the CORE Coalition, I worked to promote policy change tackling corporate practices that harm vulnerable people around the world and the environment.
I have also gained first-hand experience of working with people facing financial difficulty — including debt issues and welfare payments — as a Voluntary Telephone Adviser at the Citizens Advice Bureau. This experience firmly established my interest in working to address the additional constraints and obstacles that those with mental health problems are confronted with when experiencing financial difficulty.
Covid-19 and Money and Mental Health’s work
As the coronavirus pandemic increasingly becomes not only an urgent health crisis, but an economic one, I personally believe there has never been a more important time to campaign and conduct research on Money and Mental Health’s vision: to end the vicious cycle between mental health problems and financial insecurity. This is especially true with more people potentially struggling after months of lockdown and uncertainty.
Money and Mental Health has already begun taking the vital steps needed to further explore how the pandemic is affecting those with existing mental health issues — whether this be through income loss or potential harms online to people with mental health problems such as gambling adverts or online retail payments. And I’m excited to contribute to and continue it’s vital work.
What I hope to achieve
While I’ve only been at Money and Mental Health for a few days now, I can already sense the passion for its mission amongst the dedicated team. And in the context of the current global circumstances, I think there has never been a more urgent time than now for that enthusiasm to work towards achieving Money and Mental Health’s vision.
In these six months, I hope to gain a better understanding of how external affairs activities and the work with the Research Community creates real change that will ultimately improve the lives of those with mental health problems and those facing financial uncertainty.
I’m also eager to get stuck into projects and day to day tasks to support the institute. For instance, as events look to be virtual for the near future, I look forward to gaining new skills from organising these and engaging with speakers and audiences digitally. And with politics and policy undergoing an unparalleled period right now, I will undoubtedly have lots to follow and get stuck in on over the coming months.