Rose Acton, Policy and Research Officer, Money and Mental Health

My secondment to Money and Mental Health

Over the last nine months I’ve been very lucky to be seconded from the Financial Conduct Authority to Money and Mental Health – a small but brilliant team working hard to break the devastating link between mental health problems and financial difficulty. A quarter of people with mental health problems are struggling with problem debts that make it harder for them to recover, so I was excited to have the opportunity to be part of the solution.

Set up in Spring last year by Martin Lewis, I think it’s fair to say that Money and Mental Health have achieved a lot in their first year – from running the largest ever survey of the financial experiences of people with mental health problems to securing a commitment from the Prime Minister to review the practice of charging for the debt and mental health doctor’s note.

Making an impact

My first research paper looked at how the main NHS talking therapy service could better identify and support people in financial difficulty. Excitingly, my recommendations for how to do this are due to be trialled in a number of local services this year. I also led on Money and Mental Health’s fintech work, part of which involved holding a TechSprint with the FCA where the aim was to develop practical and innovative tech solutions to help people with mental health problems manage their money. It was brilliant to see so many people from across financial services spend two days thinking about how mental health problems impact your finances, a great catalyst for change in itself.

It’s been such a rewarding experience to be part of an organisation dedicated to achieving practical policy change that will help change the lives of people with mental health problems, who don’t deserve to be left to a life of financial difficulty. Importantly, the lived experience of people with mental health problems is at the heart of all the charity’s work, and they have a growing Research Community where people can share their experiences and have a say about how current services could better support them.

Learning and collaboration

Joining from the Financial Conduct Authority, it was also quite the change to be part of such a small organisation – when I joined there were 5 employees, just moving into their new office and yet to get their name on the door. But it has meant that I’ve had a great exposure to all aspects of the organisation – from pitching proposals for research projects to writing new organisational policies.

While it’s been a great development opportunity for me, my secondment has also been of great value to the FCA. They have developed a strong and collaborative relationship with Money and Mental Health and when I return to the FCA I will bring back in-depth knowledge of the the issues facing consumers with mental health problems, the consumer policy landscape and key contacts. At Money and Mental Health I have helped to deepen their understanding of regulatory issues, showing the value of secondments in promoting cross-organisational learning.

Want to follow in my footsteps?

Overall, I cannot recommend being seconded to Money and Mental Health enough, both for the secondee and their employer – it promotes learning, development and collaboration on an important issue for the sector. Money and Mental Health are open to receiving new secondees, if you’re considering it and you’d like to find out more, please feel free to get in touch. Alternatively, you can see our current vacancies on our jobs page.