Further Evidence Links Problem Debts and Mental Health Struggles

March 26, 2019

New analysis of relevant data has highlighted a series of striking links between problem debts and mental health issues among men and women across England.

The research was carried out by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and suggests that there are as many as 1.5 million people in England who are experiencing both debt-related difficulties and struggles with mental health.

Surveys also suggest that almost half (46 per cent) of people with problem debt also have some form of mental health concern.

Overall, people with mental health issues are reckoned to be close to 3.5 times more likely than the average English person to find themselves in problem debt situations.


Looking specifically at certain forms of mental health condition, researchers found that a very significant proportion of people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have problems with debt and are actually more than six times more likely than most people to find themselves badly in the red.

Remarkably, close to a third (29 per cent) of people with OCD conditions are in problem debt across England, according to assessments of what are believed to be nationally representative survey data.

Meanwhile, people with either bipolar disorders or depression are estimated to be roughly five times more likely than the average person to be experiencing serious debt-related difficulties.

The understanding among experts is that the reason why so many people with OCD also have debt problems is that the compulsions that come along with the condition can hamper people’s ability to manage their finances.

In the case of depression, the key issue is said to be that the resulting low moods will often make it more difficult or even impossible for people to concentrate well enough to consistently make sound decisions about their money.

“When you’re struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety – so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives,” explains Helen Undy, chief executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.

“Ensuring that money advice is routinely offered to people using mental health services would increase recovery rates, as well as improving the financial wellbeing of the 1.5 million people currently dealing with this terrifying combination of problems.”

Paul Barber

Head Adviser at our Manchester Office

Tel: 0800 001 4247
Email: enquiries@ukdebt.org.uk

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