The front cover of Breaking the cycle, Money and Mental Health's report published in July 2023 making the case for integrated mental health and debt advice services.

Nikki Bond, Interim Head of Research and Policy, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Breaking the cycle

The case for integrating money and mental health support during the cost of living crisis

Breaking the cycle shows that giving people money advice alongside talking therapies could double recovery rates for people with debt and depression — and help an extra 27,000 people recover from mental health problems each year.

Small changes to link up money and mental health support will make a huge difference, especially during the cost of living crisis. It could also save the government and the NHS £144m each year, by reducing demand on health services and helping more people with mental health problems thrive in work.

It shows that people with mental health problems are:

  • Three times more likely to be behind on at least one key payment – such as credit cards, rent or energy bills – compared to people without mental health problems
  • Eight times more likely to say they have had suicidal thoughts or feelings in the last 16 months due to rising costs than people without mental health problems
  • Nearly three times more likely to have felt anxious, unable to cope, or dread about receiving communications about overdue payments in the past three months, compared to those without mental health problems

The report makes recommendations to the government and the NHS to act now so that people struggling with their mental health and finances get the support they need.

Key Recommendations

We are calling on:

  • The government and NHS England to provide money advice alongside NHS Talking Therapies — the flagship programme for treating mild to moderate mental health problems, which treats over 1.2 million people each year.

To deliver on this promise:

  • NHS England should introduce a money worries screening question into the NHS Talking Therapies’ initial assessment to identify those in need and link them up with appropriate services
  • NHS England and the Money and Pensions Service should work together to ensure referrals from health services to money advice services are streamlined and offered in face-to-face services, over the phone and online

Read the full report here

Read the methodology here

Breaking the cycle also updates our previous findings on the psychological impact of the cost of living crisis, in A tale of two crises and Bombarded.