Money Wellness
A hand holds up a yellow speech bubble sign with the words 'mental health' written on it
category icondebts
category iconMoney Wellness
calendar icon16 May 2023

Mental Health Awareness Week: Sophie’s story

Mental health difficulties and money worries often go hand in hand. When you’re living with a mental health problem, you may find it harder to earn and manage money. In fact, figures from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute show a fifth (18%) of people living with a mental health problem are also struggling with serious debt.

Equally, worrying about money can end up damaging your mental health. When we spoke to our customers about how money struggles had affected their state of mind, 83% said they felt stressed most of the time.

Dealing with mental health problems is tough enough, without the added strain of money worries. But there is help available. And once you take that first step and reach out for support, you may find there’s light at the end of the tunnel, as Sophie’s story highlights.

Sophie’s situation

Sophie has borderline personality disorder. When she lost her job last year, she found she could no longer afford basics such as food, let alone find money to pay back utility arrears and benefit overpayments. She finds it tough to discuss difficult issues, so she was reluctant to ask for help with her debts. But, in the end, she gave us a call and spoke to our adviser Saul.

What Sophie said

“I have a habit of hiding my head in the sand, especially with advisers who don’t have the right tone of voice or sound judgemental, but Saul was beyond brilliant. He was kind, funny, respectful, supportive and super helpful. He made the whole thing extremely easy to deal with… for the first time in years I feel like I can relax and it’s all thanks to him and Money Wellness.”

What we did for Sophie

As Sophie had very little, if any, disposable income at the end of each month, we recommended a debt relief order (DRO). This means her debts will be frozen for a year and then written off if her situation doesn’t improve in that time.

About DROs

During the 12 months while your unsecured debts (credit cards, loans, overdrafts etc.) are frozen, lenders aren’t allowed to chase you for payment. And if your situation doesn’t improve in that time, the debts included in your DRO are written off.

The fee for a DRO is just £90, compared to £680 for bankruptcy. Of course, not everyone will meet the criteria for a DRO, as they’re aimed at people with debts of less than £30,000, very few assets and hardly any disposable income. A debt adviser will let you know if you meet the requirements and, if you do and want to go ahead, make an application on your behalf.

Another thing to bear in mind is that a DRO will be recorded on your credit file for six years, making it harder to borrow during that time. Having said that, if you’re already missing payments as a result of money struggles, the chances are your credit rating will already have been affected.

A debt adviser will run through all the pros and cons of a DRO and help you decide if it’s the right option for you.

Are money worries damaging your mental health?

If your mental health is suffering as a result of money worries or a mental health problem is impacting your ability to manage your finances, our guide on money and mental health looks at steps you can take to improve your situation. And if you want to take back control of your money like Sophie has, we’ll be happy to help you with free debt advice.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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