Tag Archives: wellbeing

5 great reasons to get out of debt

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IVA tips

There’s no time like the present to deal with your debts

Over the years we’ve found that people want to get out of debt for a whole host of reasons.

From buying a house to being able to save up for a rainy day, there’s no one-size-fits-all motivation when it comes to debt advice.

Nobody likes problem debt, but sometimes we need a bit more encouragement to get going and make debt freedom a reality. If you’re done with being in debt but need some inspiration, would these help your resolve?

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How Samaritans can help you

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Samaritans are in your corner

Samaritans are in your corner

At Samaritans, we’re aware that people are feeling under increasing pressure over money. At the start of the current financial crisis in 2008, one in 10 of our calls was about money, debt and related issues. Since then, this figure has risen to one in six.

Although we know that worries about debt or the threat of losing a home can cause stress and depression, it’s important to understand that suicide is complex, and it is seldom the result of a single factor. It is likely to have several inter-related causes.

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Debt and depression in the news: over 80% of clients suffer

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Debt and depression

Those in debt are on the edge (thanks to MrsMinifig)

Back in December we talked about debt and depression and how they’re fundamentally linked. It’s not being alarmist to state that millions of people in the UK suffer emotional health problems because of money troubles. However we now know that over 80% of those in debt have moderate or severe depression.

The subject of debt and depression is back in the news today; the BBC reports that money woes are linked to rise in depression. They say,

“GPs and charities said they were being contacted increasingly by people struggling with debt and job worries”

They report that referrals for talking therapies have increased four-fold in the last year and a trigger was likely to be “financial woe”.

This ties in with what we said of a survey commissioned alongside the Guardian last year,

“More than eight out of 10 people with debt problems say their financial difficulties are having a negative effect on their lives”

StepChange Wellbeing

We originally wrote about the link between debt and depression to tie in with the launch of our StepChange Wellbeing tool in mid-December. It’s an effective, additional service to our online debt advice tool Debt Remedy.

For those that don’t know the tool, it was developed alongside consultants from the World Health Organisation, the Mental Health Foundation and a senior GP from the Royal College of General Practitioners.

StepChange Wellbeing asks 16 medically-endorsed questions to assess levels of anxiety and depression. This gives an insight into the emotional wellbeing of the person, and whether debt is putting them under additional stress.

At the end of a Wellbeing session a recommendation is given. If there are no symptoms then debt isn’t having an effect on their mental health; for mild symptoms we offer online help via a UK version of Australian National University’s e-couch self-help program. If the symptoms appear moderate or severe we recommend that the person visits their GP promptly.

It’s part of our commitment to treat the whole person, not just the debt problem.

Vast scale of debt and depression

We didn’t know the exact scale of the issue at the time we blogged (although the earlier survey had given us an insight), but after four months we’re starting to get a very clear picture.

Nearly 2,500 clients have accessed the Wellbeing service since launch and 83% of them exhibit symptoms of depression or anxiety that could be classed as moderate or severe. These people need to speak with their doctor as soon as possible, as they’re under a stress that is affecting their emotional and mental health.

More eye-opening is that extrapolated across those with debt problems the number of those with depression is massive.

It would mean that of the 418,000 people we counselled last year, 347,000 of them had moderate or severe depression due to debt. And remember that these are the figures of only one free debt help service – the actual numbers could be into the millions.

The BBC article quotes Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of mental health charity Sane. She says,

“It is impossible to say for sure that economic problems are leading to a rise in depression. But we are certainly hearing more from people who are worried where the next meal is coming from, job security and cuts in benefits”

Our figures can help to clarify her statement. While not all depression is due to debt, in the vast majority of cases debt leads to depression.

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Coping with debt and depression: StepChange Wellbeing launched

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Debt and depression

Debt and depression (thanks to MyEyeSees)

Debt and depression are fundamentally linked. That may seem obvious to many people but the pressure of being in debt can significantly impact on a person’s emotional health and their relationships.

When we speak to our clients about their feelings over debt they often say work can become difficult due to the constant worry about debt, they find it difficult to concentrate some days and they were continually worrying about money.

This is backed up by survey we commissioned earlier this year. As The Guardian reported in the summer:

“More than eight out of 10 people with debt problems say their financial difficulties are having a negative effect on their lives”

Relationships suffer as well. 37% of the StepChange Debt Charity clients we surveyed said that debt problems had adversely affected the relationship with their partner and 22% with their children. Those are significant numbers. Millions of people are suffering emotional health problems because of debt.

As Delroy Corinaldi, our external affairs director, said in the Guardian article, “such people need sympathetic and practical support to guide them through this [debt] crisis so it won’t scar them and their families for life.”

StepChange Wellbeing

In response to these issues, we’ve just launched an extra, additional service to our online debt advice tool DebtRemedy, entitled StepChange Wellbeing.

StepChange Wellbeing has been developed alongside consultants from the World Health Organisation, the Mental Health Foundation and a senior GP from the Royal College of General Practitioners and asks users 16 medically-endorsed questions to assess their levels of anxiety and depression.

It’s a self-diagnosis tool, meaning that as long as the answers supplied are honest, it provides effective (and anonymous) solutions to help get back on track. Once the person has completed the full assessment they’ll be presented with specific recommendations.

Treat the whole person

Obviously, like a doctor’s diagnosis, the recommendations depend on the severity of the symptoms. These could include advice as simple (but effective) as eating well and staying active. If more severe symptoms are reported the tool could recommend visiting the online self-help program e-couch (we partnered with the Australian National University to produce a UK version) or advise a visit to a GP or even, in extreme cases, phoning the Samaritans.

StepChange Wellbeing doesn’t replace a good relationship with a doctor, and we advise that if clients are seeking diagnosis or treatment of anxiety, depression other mental health disorders, they should seek the help of a suitably qualified medical professional. However the service provides those in debt with an important insight into how the weight of the debt is bearing down on them and how they can help curb any health issues.

We want StepChange Wellbeing to be used alongside DebtRemedy to help people who are in a debt crisis – because we know that debt brings with it anxiety, health issues and depression. In essence, we’re trying to treat the whole person, not just the debt problem.

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