Only 1 in 7 consumers with a mental health problem have told their financial services firm about their condition

9 November 2022

  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and the Money Advice Trust have today launched new practical guides to help financial services and other essential services  firms make it easier for customers to disclose a mental health problem. 
  • Analysis published in the guides shows that just 14% of consumers with mental health problems have disclosed to their financial services firm, and only 12% have disclosed to their energy provider. This is in part due to the failure of firms to provide the right support around disclosure. 
  • As a result, millions of vulnerable consumers are missing out on vital help from their essential services providers at a time when many are struggling to keep up with payments due to the cost of living crisis. 
  • The charities are calling for firms to help more consumers tell them about a mental health problem, by routinely offering opportunities to disclose and clearly setting out what support consumers will receive after disclosing.
  • Not only will that improve support for those struggling during the cost of living crisis, it will also help essential services firms meet expectations around supporting vulnerable consumers set out by sector regulators. 


The new guides published today offer practical tips to help essential services firms support customers in disclosing a mental health problem. 

Money and Mental Health’s research shows that getting the right support from an essential services firm to disclose a mental health problem — and after a disclosure — can make a huge difference in improving people’s experiences of using essential services and reducing unnecessary distress. However, national polling by the charity shows that a minority of consumers with mental health problems are disclosing to their providers (1):

  • 14% have disclosed to their financial services firm 
  • 12% have disclosed to their energy firm 
  • 11% have disclosed to their water provider
  • 13% have disclosed to their telecoms provider 


This means that millions of vulnerable customers could be missing out on available support from firms in the middle of the cost of living crisis. That includes adjustments firms can offer which make it significantly easier for people with mental health problems to access and use essential services – such as being able to choose a preferred channel of communication. 

The polling also shows that 28% of people with mental health problems across the UK didn’t think that disclosing to an essential services firm would make a difference to the support they received, and 12% felt that if they shared details of their mental health problem they would not be believed (2)

These factors are helping to drive the low rates of disclosure to essential services firms. Other barriers include a lack of support and encouragement from firms to discuss vulnerability; a fear of being cut off by firms; and a lack of clear and accessible ways to disclose mental health problems.


The new guides published today have been informed by the experiences of people with mental health problems, regulatory guidance and research. They offer practical tips on how firms can help more consumers disclose a mental health problem, and are also designed to help firms meet the expectations around supporting vulnerable customers set out by sector regulators.

Money and Mental Health and the Money Advice Trust are calling for firms to be more proactive in encouraging consumers to disclose and ensure that the needs of customers are acted upon following a disclosure being made. In particular, firms should:

  • Create and routinely offer opportunities for disclosure from onboarding onwards, and signal to consumers that disclosures are welcome during routine points of contact.
  • Be clear from the outset on the support they can give in response to disclosure, and ensure that the agreed level of support is delivered.
  • Support initiatives to help consumers to disclose to multiple firms via a single platform, to avoid consumers having to repeatedly disclose sensitive information about their mental health and make it easier for them to get the help they need across the board.
  • Be transparent with consumers about what information will be recorded about them and how their data will be used, and obtain consent for this where appropriate.


Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:

“Disclosing to your financial services firm when you have a mental health problem can be an incredibly daunting and difficult step to take. When someone chooses to share, it represents a huge moment of trust for the individual – but it also creates a critical opportunity for firms to better understand and meet their customers’ needs.

“With only a small minority of customers with mental health problems currently disclosing, there are potentially millions of vulnerable people losing out on support on offer from firms. This is particularly alarming given people with mental health problems are being disproportionately hit by the cost of living crisis, and need this support more than ever. 

“So far the onus has been on the individual consumer to disclose their mental health problem – but we want that to change. Firms should be proactive from the get-go – and increase trust amongst consumers by making sure disclosures are encouraged, handled correctly and lead to tangible action.”


Chris Fitch, co-author, Vulnerability Lead, Money Advice Trust, and Research Fellow, Personal Finance Research Centre, University of Bristol, said:

“On paper, disclosure of a mental health problem is simple: a customer shares information, and firms then respond. However, in real-life, disclosures are rarely straightforward. Firms therefore need to understand how to encourage disclosures, respond effectively to them, and record the information to inform action and support.

“Our new guides draw on research with consumers and firms to establish how to achieve this in practice. And critically, this new research identifies what may separate a ‘good’ disclosure from a poorer experience and outcome.

“Firms have to make it as easy for consumers to disclose their support needs as it is for them to update a mobile number. Without doing this, firms will lose out on vital insights, while consumers lose out on available support.”



To set up an interview or for any other media enquiries, please contact Rachel Fergusson, External Affairs Officer at Money and Mental Health, on 07427 689 667/ 07935 216 804 or [email protected]



  1. Money and Mental Health analysis of online polling conducted by Opinium, of 5,001 people with mental health problems (weighted to be nationally representative), and 1,000 people without mental health problems. respondents were surveyed between 25 June and 22 July 2021.
  2. In the polling, the essential services providers respondents were asked about were Energy (gas or electricity), Water, Financial services, including banking and insurance, Mobile phone, internet or landline telephone, HMRC and their local council.


Through its Mental Health Accessible programme, Money and Mental Health is working with individual firms to better support their customers with mental health problems.

About the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is an independent charity set up by Martin Lewis, and committed to breaking the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems. We conduct research, develop practical policy solutions and work in partnership with both those providing services and those using them to find what really works.

About Money Advice Trust

The Money Advice Trust is a charity which helps people across the UK tackle their debts and manage their money with confidence. The Trust’s main activities are providing free advice through National Debtline, and Business Debtline, supporting advisers through Wiseradviser, providing training to creditors to improve support for vulnerable customers and improving the UK’s money and debt environment through policy, research and awareness raising campaigns. The Money Advice Trust has trained over 300 creditor organisations and over 30,000 creditor staff through its vulnerability training and consultancy. Further details of the Trust’s training work is available at: