The MSE guide to Mental Health and debt… nearly there at last

6 months ago admin 0

Mental health problems can cause debts, debts can cause mental health issues and the two can feed each other. It’s been a passion of mine to produce a really strong guide to help individuals and their families/carers who suffer from these problems. We’re at the final stage now. The guide is written, we’re just waiting on the agencies and charities we’ve been talking to for last checks…

After that it’ll need laying out and proofing, so we should be ready to publish in January. Better late than never!

The mental health guide’s checkered history

Longstanding MoneySavers may feel the saga of this guide has been running forever. It’s been a passion of mine to get a decent publication out there on this for years. I’ve wanted to invest in doing a really good one.

I think part of the reason stems from my philosophy of debt, that we need to focus on responsible borrowing, rather than trust the fact there is responsible lending (one of the reasons I’m also so strongly pushing for financial education).

That works well, except for those permanently or temporarily struggling to take responsibility for themselves due to mental health issues. Where does this fit in?

I think that’s probably the reason (as well as talking to, hearing from and knowing people who’ve been affected of course) I wanted to do the guide.

I first wrote about it back in 2006 (see should we stop people with mental health problems borrowing money blog) and then I announced we’d started work on the new guide in 2007.

In 2008 I even helped launch Mind’s work with the FSA on the subject (see Mental Health & Debt: True Bravery blog). Yet our guide plans went a bit kablooey after the psychiatrists I’d hired to help write the guide, basically announced other projects had come along so they couldn’t complete it (see the mental health & debt guide update blog). So we tried to work out how to bring it in house.

This time it’s definitely happening

In truth this has been a hugely difficult project. The debt side of it is relatively easy for us, it’s our stock-in trade, yet the mental health side is more difficult. Mental health and capacity issues are not homogenous, different people with different problems react in different ways.

Trying to find a way where you can genuinely help hasn’t been easy. MSE Jenny (who’s been working on it with me) and I have done a lot of soul searching about trying to get it right and ensure that the real mental health experts, such as Mind, think we’re giving the right advice.

For example, do you tell a bank you’ve got mental health issues? What do you tell those who get incapacity benefit for mental health issues who now face an uncertain future, when uncertainty is one of the great anxiety issues?

Yet this time I genuinely believe we are nearly there (I’ve been through a near final draft). The end result will be slightly less ambitious than I’d first planned in terms of detailing every issue, but it’s still a large publication (10,000 words plus) and I hope it’ll be a genuine aid and comfort for the individuals and families who are blighted with this combination of issues.

So to those waiting for it, thank you for your continued patience, and my apologies it has taken so long.