One in eleven people in the UK report that they are in debt. This figure rises to one in four for people with mental health problems (The Office of National Statistics). More worryingly, more than a third of people in debt do not tell their partners, and women find it harder to admit their debt problems than men (Consumer Credit Counselling Service).
Indeed, the CCCS chairman, Malcolm Hurlston describes debt as a “lonely secret.” This can have added poignancy at times like Christmas and when organising package holidays.
MIND’s report In the Red, Debt and Mental Health, describes the serious impact that debt has upon mental health to the degree that it may contribute to family breakups and even suicide. The report also describes the need for financial institutions to take into account the psychological impact of debt upon consumers, and that reform is needed.
Looking for Help With Debt
Awareness of these figures may offer reassurance and spur the first steps to resolving the issue. But facing debt for the first time can be frightening and evoke powerful emotions, which may be:
- In the long term, depression
Finding Debt Help for the First Time
The following approaches may help when revealing or discussing a debt problem:
- Assign a special time to discuss it. This should be a quiet time when there are no pressing matters or interruptions
- If this proves difficult, writing a letter might be a good approach
- Blame will have a counter effect. The past cannot be reversed. Only the future can be changed
- Sticking to the point as opposed to dragging in other issues will help maintain focus on the problem
- Do not expect to resolve the problem in one sitting
- Emotions come and go. The cathartic experience of discussing debt for the first time will often pass
- If emotions become raised, it is best to allow a cooling off period. A third party from a support service will help
- According to MIND, having a network of supportive people is crucial for dealing with the emotional distress of debt and is better than facing it alone
- The Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) offer easy first steps to taking action via their online Debt Remedy questionnaire, which asks simple questions regarding income and expenditure, which is confidential. From this, a CCCS Debt Remedy tailored to fit can be worked out
- The person in debt might not be aware of debtor’s rights that could make the debtor feel more empowered and able to deal with the problem
- Free debt counselors will help the debtor work out a debt management plan (DMP) around a family budget
The following debt counseling services are also crucial
- Citizen’s Advice Bureau
- National Debtline
- Office of Fair Trading
- Financial Ombudsman
- Consumer Credit Counseling Service
- The Samaritans
According to MIND’s report into how people deal with debt worries, thousands suffer in silence. Talking about it for the first time may evoke powerful emotions, but this could be the first step to moving forward. In some cases writing a letter might be the best approach, but contacting a free debt counseling service could help resolve debt once and for all.