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Citizens Advice response to Governments Mental Health Strategy

2 February 2011

Citizens Advice response to Governments Mental Health Strategy

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:  “

We are pleased that the Government has launched a strategy which sets out its plans for improving mental health well-being in the UK. One in four people will have experience of a mental health issue in their lifetime, whether it be themselves, a family member or a friend. The impact that the recent economic downturn, rising unemployment and austerity measures will have on peoples mental health must not be underestimated. Many of the clients we see are in low paid work, or have lost their job in the recession and fallen into debt as a result of the sudden big drop in income, putting them at real risk of homelessness. All of this can have a huge impact on stress and anxiety levels.

“From experience, we know users of advice services often report improved health and wellbeing following advice. Seeking advice at the right time helps people to remain in work, stay in their homes, keep their families together, increase their income and can empower people to take control of their finances and manage their debts. As part of today’s strategy* the Government recognises that investment in face to face debt advice services could lead to savings of £300 million down the line. Advice can solve the problems that, left untreated, could lead to the onset of anxiety and depression and poor mental health.

“We welcome the strategy’s recognition of the role of debt advice as a cost effective preventative measure, however the impact of current funding cuts to debt advice services across the country will mean that far less preventative work is able take place. This will undoubtedly have a very real effect on mental health wellbeing across the population.”

CASE STUDY

William, a CAB client in the Midlands, was a 59 year old widower who had schizophrenia. William had accumulated some debts for which he wanted advice. Due to the severity of his mental health, a Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF) was completed by his Community Mental Health Team’s psychiatrist and forwarded to his creditors, alongside a covering letter from the CAB requesting that the debts be written off. The psychiatrist explained on the DMHEF that the client was not responding to treatment and his condition was ongoing since 2006. The initial response from one credit card company was that they would not write off the debts. The CAB contacted the company, highlighting that William’s situation was unlikely to change and persuaded the Credit Card company to change their decision and write off the whole of William’s £16,100 of debt.

*www.dh.gov.uk

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.