Mental health initiative to tackle money problems

Consumer champion Martin Lewis is backing a new body set up to look into the "devastating" link between mental illness and money problems for parents

 

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The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute will work alongside banks, lenders, regulators and health service providers.

It will focus on guiding mums and dads in the right direction so they can better protect themselves from financial difficulties and get out of debt.

The policy institute will also draw from those with personal experience of mental health and financial difficulties.

Mr Lewis, the founder of consumer help website MoneySavingExpert.com is giving £2m to the initiative.

He said: "Thankfully, business and the financial services industry have got far better at dealing with people who are having problems - yet there's never been any real focus on prevention.

"For example, you could set up a voluntary register of people, who, if their spending patterns are unusual, perhaps due to a bipolar spending spree, have their credit card cut off until a nominated trusted friend agrees it can be reactivated.

"This is the type of thing we want to research, and work with lenders to test and regulators and politicians to ensure the framework allows it to happen."

A study from Psychological Medicine in 2008 suggested that one in two British adults with a debt problem also has a mental health problem.

Mr Lewis continued: "Debt isn't just a financial problem, it causes relationships and families to break up, people to lose their homes and their lives."

The new institute will explore the possibility of voluntary credit freezing for people facing up to mental health issues.

A recent survey by the National Childbirth Trust has revealed that 1 in 3 new fathers worry about their mental health.

The reasons for male depression are slightly different to female postnatal depression, with 73 per cent of men saying they were stressed due to constantly worrying about their female partner's mental health.

The most common factors cited by men were 'pressures of fatherhood', 'money troubles' and 'a lack of sleep'.

Postnatal depression is a form of depression that is more likely to affect dads and mums in the first year of their baby's life.

It can happen gradually or all of a sudden, and can range from being relatively mild to very hard hitting.

For help and information about dealing with money problems visit: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

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