New analysis suggests that a failure
to address financial difficulty in the
main NHS talking therapies programme
is holding back the recovery of tens of thousands of people with depression
and anxiety.


basicA quarter of people with ‘common’ mental health conditions like depression or anxiety are also in problem debt, which is likely to be holding back their recovery. New analysis by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has revealed that the recovery rate for people with both depression and debt who are in the Government’s main talking therapies programme is likely to be just 22%, less than half that of those who have depression but are not in debt (55%). For those with anxiety and debt, the analysis suggests the recovery rate in the programme is likely to be just 38%, compared to 52% for those with anxiety but no problem debt.

Despite this, the Government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme does not recognise the damaging link between debt and mental health. Only 6% of people who were in debt and being treated by the programme were signposted for support with their money.

The IAPT programme has been struggling to meet its target of 50% recovery rates since its inception in 2008. Today’s analysis from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute suggests that financial difficulty may be the missing link holding the service back, with recovery rates of 53% and 52% possible for anxiety and depression respectively if effective identification and support for people in financial difficulty is added to the programme. The report, The Missing Link, recommends that the IAPT programme introduces simple one-question screening to identify those in financial difficulty and refers them for specialist debt advice. Based on the increase in recovery rates, this change would save the NHS at least £2.4 million and generate at least £105 million in additional economic benefits.


Commenting, Polly Mackenzie, Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:


“If you get home from your latest therapy session to find another overdue bill on the door mat, or to another threatening call from the bailiffs it’s no wonder that recovery takes longer. A quarter of people with mental health problems are in problem debt, and the failure of the NHS to acknowledge and address that fact is keeping people ill for longer. The Government’s Talking Therapies programme has changed the lives of thousands of people by providing access to much-needed support. The next step is to hit that 50% recovery rate target by addressing the problem debt that is holding back recovery.”


Read the full report here




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Notes to Editors

  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute was set up by Martin Lewis in spring 2016, registered charity number 1166493. It is lead by Polly Mackenzie and conducts research and develops policies for banks, lenders, regulators, the health service and government to help people with mental health problems protect themselves from financial difficulties and get out of debt.
  • Polly Mackenzie was previously Director of Policy for the Deputy Prime Minister, working in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office, from 2010-2015.
  • This new analysis from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute combines the results of a survey of people who had used IAPT therapy, modelling of current recovery rates and a cost-benefit analysis.
  • The survey was of 435 people with mental health problems who had accessed NHS talking therapies and was conducted online in September 2016.
  • Further information on research methods can be found on page 33 of the report. Read the full report here.