charge people with mental health problems for overdrafts, charity
by Angela Hussain
should waiver overdraft charges if a person in a mental health crisis
spends "erratically", a charity has urged.
The call came after a report revealed
those diagnosed with a mental illness, and who are usually
on benefits, are three times
more likely to be in debt than other people, and that owing money
is worsening people’s mental health.
Mind survey of more than 1,800 people with mental health problems
and in debt reported that 91 per cent believe their debt had worsened
their mental health.
More than half (56%) said they had even gone without food due to
Mind is urging banks to adopt a “flagging” system where
service users – particularly those diagnosed with bipolar
disorder or schizophrenia who are vulnerable to mania – can
choose to have their account monitored for erratic spending.
should also not impose charges on unauthorised debt accrued when
in crisis, said the charity.
Mind's chief executive Paul Farmer said “debt-depression”
is a growing problem in the UK.
"Changes in practice such as waiving fees when a customer has
been too unwell to manage their finances and introducing mental
health awareness training for bank staff will make all the difference,"
"Creditors have a duty to help not hound their customers, especially
when they are coping with serious health problems," he added.
A spokesman from the British Bankers' Association said: "The
banking code sets out a series of commitments to people facing financial
difficulties, including being sympathetic and positive in their
consideration of financial difficulties and proactively identifying
and contacting individuals who may be at risk."
Another Mind recommendation in its 'In The Red' report is that community
psychiatric nurses, social workers and GPs should receive training
to support people with mental health problems in debt.
response, a Department of Health spokeswoman told Disability Now
magazine: "It is not practical to expect professional staff
to know about all the issues and the law covering debt management.
"Apart from the fact that this is not why they came into the
service, knowledge of debt management is highly complex and there
are various outside experts, who keep up to date with any changes
in law and practice, who are better placed and fully qualified to
deal with this issue."
survey was carried out by researchers from the Royal College of
• 71 per cent of respondents ran out of money every week or
• 87 per cent rely on credit to pay for food and everyday
• 51 per cent had gone without heating due to debt
• 92 per cent reported not being able to socialise
• Over 50 per cent were living on a weekly household income
of less than £200 - what the government defines as 'living
on the poverty line'.
Mind's In The Red report
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