Debt and mental health – Jim’s story

posted by in Client stories, Mental Health Awareness Week


After years of turmoil, Jim was able to turn things around with our help

As part of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week we’ve decided to shine a light on the impact of debt on mental health and wellbeing.

We could quote stats at you all day but we thought telling you about a real life client’s experience of dealing with debt and mental health problems would paint a clearer picture.

We speak to people in similar situations to Jim every day. Sometimes being in debt is cited as part of the reason for their mental health problems, and other times mental health problems have led to debt. Whatever the sequence of events, we know that getting quality debt advice can make a huge difference.

Jim’s story

Jim (not his real name) served in the Army but had to leave due to ill health. Following his discharge he was diagnosed with cancer. Luckily it responded to treatment and he entered remission. However, not long after his successful treatment his partner was also diagnosed with cancer and sadly she didn’t survive.

On top of all this personal tragedy he’d also had run up debts that he couldn’t manage. He received constant phone calls from his creditors, trying to pressurise him into making payments he simply couldn’t afford.

The combination of all these factors led Jim to his lowest point and he made several attempts to take his life. Thankfully none succeeded.

Reaching out for help

He contacted us for help shortly after leaving hospital following his last suicide attempt, looking to try and get back in control of his finances. This wasn’t his main problem but the debts hung over everything like a black cloud and he wanted to sort them out.

Lynne, a Debt Advisor in our Eastbourne office, took the call. She listened to his harrowing tale and supported him while they worked together at dealing with his debts. It wasn’t surprising that with all the other issues, his finances had been neglected, and it took some time to build up a clear understanding of what was happening.

Thanks to years of experience, Lynne was able to help Jim plan out a realistic budget that would cover his personal costs, sort out the arrears on his household bills and still left a small amount of money left over that he could use to pay his debts through a debt management plan (DMP).

Turning point

The DMP wasn’t a magic cure to Jim’s problems but the reduced payment plan meant that he received less pressure from his creditors and still had enough money to live. Without the constant stress of his debts he could focus on improving the other areas of his life.

He later told us that starting the DMP was the turning point in his recovery. He started to see the world more positively and problems that he’d previously felt powerless to cope with started to feel more manageable.

The last time we spoke to Jim he was feeling so much better that he felt able to start looking for work again. He’d applied for several jobs and had a couple of interviews lined up. He was planning for the future and felt good about himself again.

Help is available

If you find yourself overwhelmed by problems and can’t see a way out, it’s important to get help. Jim was a tough army type of guy and was reluctant to ask for help, but it proved to be an essential part of him starting to feel better.

Life can be cruel to us sometimes but it’s important to know that you don’t have to face things on your own. If you think you might need help with your finances you can get help planning a budget and receive a personal action plan by using our Debt Remedy tool. We can help you get back on top of your finances.

There’s other help available too. If you need to speak to someone you can call Samaritans any time, day or night. They’ll never judge you but they will listen and give you chance to talk about whatever’s on your mind. If you’d like to know more about mental health issues then the Mental Health Foundation’s website has lots of useful information.

Jim’s name and some of his details have been changed to protect his identity.

James Winterbottom has been a debt advisor for six years. Away from work he is an amateur app developer and writes fiction. James is a lifelong supporter of Huddersfield Town football club, which suggests he is either very loyal or very daft. He also likes to talk about himself in the third person in bio pages.

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