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At a glance: Find out how debt can affect your mental health and what to do if you're struggling.
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This summary covers England and Wales
For a version of this summary that covers Scotland, please click here.

How debt and mental health are linked

One in four adults in the UK experience issues with their mental health. These can include anxiety and depression, as well as many other conditions. Mental health issues can make managing money and debts harder, but help is available. Half of people who are struggling with debt also have mental health issues. This page aims to make dealing with debt less stressful for those with mental health conditions.

Getting advice

We know it can feel overwhelming and stressful to think about dealing with your debts but it’s better to get advice as soon as you can. However, it’s never too late to contact us. We offer many options to help with your debts. 

Talking about debts or health can be hard. We provide free, unbiased advice and keep your information private. We won’t share your details unless you ask us to. You can choose to: 

  • Contact us by phone or webchat 
  • Use our online tools, like our Digital Advice tool 
  • Allow us to send you tailored information 
  • Have a friend or relative speak to us for you 
  • Stay anonymous 
  • End a discussion anytime. 

It is always your choice if you want to tell us about your mental health condition. If you do, it will help us to give better advice that’s suited to you.  

Our advisers can help you to: 

  • Ask your creditors to hold action so that you can get debt advice. 
  • Break down information to make it more manageable 
  • Deal with the most urgent things first. 

Our advisers can explain your options and give advice on handling your debts. They can also tell you if your creditors should be following any extra rules or guidance when contacting you about your debt. However, sometimes it might be better for a casework adviser to deal with your debts for you. If so, we will try to connect you with an organisation that can help. 

Telling creditors about mental health issues

If you find it hard to manage debts, consider telling your creditors about your mental health issues. They must follow laws like the Equality Act 2010 and try to help you. They might: 

  • Pause debt collection for a short period 
  • Contact you at specific times or in certain ways 
  • Give you more time to gather information 
  • Agree not to pass your debt to a collection agency 
  • Use specialised staff to handle your case. 

If you haven’t dealt with a debt for several years

If you haven’t written to a creditor or made a payment towards a particular debt for several years, contact us for advice before you contact the creditor. You may need different advice about dealing with this debt.

Providing evidence

Creditors may not always need extra evidence but if they do, ask them what type of evidence they will accept. If they will not accept evidence that you already have available, you can use the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF). The DMHEF helps you to provide medical evidence to creditors. It’s recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and makes it easier to explain your situation. You will need to ask your health professional to complete the DMHEF. Contact us if you need help with this form. 

Breathing space

Mental health crisis breathing space can protect you from creditors if you’re getting mental health crisis treatment. For debts that are included in your breathing space, creditors can’t: 

  • contact you for payment 
  • add interest or charges 
  • take enforcement action.  

Contact the Money and Pensions Service for more details. 

Also, read our Breathing Space guide for more information 

Debt write off

If your situation is unlikely to improve, you can ask creditors to write off your debt. Use our sample letter to ask creditors to write off your debt. Creditors don’t have to agree but guidelines suggest considering this for long-term mental health conditions if there is little chance that you will be able to pay the debt back. 

Read our Write off debt guide for more information 

Credit and spending

Some mental health conditions make managing money hard. One way to help is to add a ‘notice of correction’ to your credit reference file. This explains your situation to potential creditors. It can also delay credit applications. This gives you more time to think about whether you really need any new credit that you apply for. 

For more information about credit reference files, see our Credit reference agencies guide

Learn more about this topic

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can read our in-depth guide.

Read in-depth-guide

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