BLOG: Why we need to build products and regulations that help people maintain their financial as well as their mental health

June 14, 2016

“We have not had credit cards or normal bank accounts for years and years, this helps a lot because you cannot fall back on them and get in even more mess.”

This is just one of more than 4,000 testimonials analysed by Money and Mental Health in our first report - the largest study of its kind looking at the links between financial difficulties and mental health problems.

Many of those who shared their story find themselves unable to manage mainstream financial products. They self-exclude because dealing only with cash is the best way to stay in control

The Financial Inclusion Commission’s work has shown that financial inclusion means making sure people can access financial products that work for them and their circumstances. I believe our work shows that, by this measure, people with mental health problems are being let down. There simply aren’t enough products out there that help people stay in control during periods of poor mental health.

As a result, 93% of our respondents say they find themselves spending more when they’re unwell. Three quarters put off paying bills or dealing with creditors. And nearly 60% have taken out a loan when they’re unwell that they believe they wouldn’t have taken out if they had been mentally healthy.

The financial services sector has done a good job in improving the treatment of those who are in debt and suffering from a mental health problem. But surely we all agree it would be better to help keep people out of trouble in the first place?

At Money and Mental Health, the new policy institute set up to look at these issues, we know it won’t be easy.  The next step is to start a dialogue. We want to bring together everyone who’s interested in these issues and work together. That means politicians, financial services, retailers, medical professionals, regulators and most importantly, the one in four of us who experience a mental health problem each year.

Together, we can build products and regulations that help people maintain their financial as well as their mental health.

Polly Mackenzie is Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Money on Your Mind was published on 14 June 2016.