Nikki Bond, Senior Research Officer, Money and Mental Health

How our Research Community helped get information about money and mental health into GP surgeries

14 October 2021

Today we’re excited to share details on how our Research Community members have helped shape new information materials produced by the charity Mind to prevent financial difficulty. Back in 2019, our Research Community told us that there wasn’t enough information provided by healthcare professionals about the impact mental health problems can have on your finances. We then published our report Information is power which called on government bodies to fund the development and distribution of a range of materials about the prevention of financial difficulty. Now, we’re delighted to announce that this long-standing recommendation to break the link between money and mental health problems has come to fruition.

Over the last year, we’ve been supporting the mental health charity Mind, to produce a range of materials about preventing financial difficulty — shaped by the views, ideas and experiences of our Research Community members. In the next few months, you’re likely to see on social media, adverts and in thousands of GP surgeries a whole host of information and support to prevent financial difficulties for people with mental health problems.

The case for change

Difficulties earning, managing and spending money while unwell with mental health problems can be a recipe for financial trouble. These challenges contribute to people with mental health problems being three and a half times more likely to be in problem debt than people without mental health problems. Escalating debts, and increased collections activity from creditors, can all drive feelings of hopelessness and despair, which in turn, can exacerbate mental health problems and prolonging recovery. 

Our research found that nearly two-thirds of people surveyed with experience of mental health problems thought they would have recovered more quickly if they had been helped to manage money better. 

“For the issue [of money and mental health] to be raised at the outset [of my mental health problems]…so leaflets made available to draw my attention to the possibility of difficulties in over spending.” Expert by experience 

Research Community members wanted to receive this help early in their mental health journey, with six in ten people agreeing that information would be valuable when they first received a diagnosis or treatment. Despite this, just one in twenty participants who had seen a GP about their mental health problems had been offered support or signposting to manage their money.

The support people need

People with lived experience of mental health problems told us they wanted three key types of preventative support: 

  • Emotional support – to manage thoughts and feelings around money. The stress and anxiety that can accompany financial problems can be overwhelming, and validation and encouragement to tackle the problem can make all the difference. 
  • Information – on how mental health conditions might affect money management capabilities, so people can put financial safeguards in place to protect themselves. Information on budgeting apps and spending alerts can be incredibly helpful too. 
  • Practical support – people often need practical assistance to ensure they’re in receipt of full benefit entitlements or help to liaise with creditors. 

Stepping up to the plate

We were delighted when, back at the start of the pandemic, Mind, funded by Barclays, asked us to work with them to pilot a service and produce resources that would support people with mental health problems to prevent financial difficulties. By providing accessible support and information about the link between mental health and money – Mind are working to challenge the double stigma around money worries and mental health problems. 

These resources will provide people experiencing mental health problems with information about the links between money and mental health, practical advice and guidance, and support to ensure people experiencing difficulties can access appropriate support at the earliest possible opportunity.

Next steps

But we’re not stopping here. The efforts to prevent financial difficulties for people experiencing mental health problems extend beyond providing people with information and signposting. Over the next few months we’ll be considering the specific needs of people with severe mental health problems who may struggle to act upon information and signposting and need additional support to prevent financial difficulties.

You can find more information on Mind’s Investing in Mental Health programme here.

You can also contribute to our research by becoming a member of our Research Community – join here.