Debt and Mental Health in the UK

85% of PayPlan clients said that being in debt impacted their mental health

In our 2019 survey to find out the links between debt and mental health, PayPlan clients reported feelings of stress (91%), anxiety (84%) and depression (68%).

Life after debt

What’s encouraging, is the survey also clearly shows the positive effects that seeking advice has on wellbeing.

  • 93% of PayPlan clients said that after seeking advice, their mental wellbeing improved and stress levels reduced
  • A huge 95% said they now feel confident in managing their money
  • 69% can now open up to friends and family about their situation.
  • Over two thirds found PayPlan’s online journey to be beneficial for their mental health, as they were able to complete and digest important financial information in their own time.

Warning signs of getting into debt

Our clients shared that more than often, there aren’t warning signs that you’ll be in problem debt in the near future. What seems affordable can suddenly become an issue due to events like going on maternity leave, being made redundant or a bereavement.

Other signs included:

  • borrowing money to make repayments
  • if you have a bigger out going than income
  • paying for essentials on credit cards
  • letters from creditors
  • mood swings and increased drinking

Shareable content

Download our Debt and Mental Health in the UK infographic with key stats, read the press release with more results and take a look at our guest blogs and client stories below.

Mental Health Awareness 2019 – Blogs

Seeking debt advice improves mental wellbeing and reduces stress

In a recent PayPlan survey, 93% of clients reported that seeking debt advice improved their mental wellbeing and that they felt a reduction in their stress levels.

Clients in debt believe there is more that can be done nationally to help people stay debt-free and seek support sooner.


Benefits of seeking advice


‘A third of people in debt worry about how it impacts their performance at work’

Helen Clarke, Partnership Manager at PayPlan, explains how debt can impact mental health and wellbeing, and how this can link to performance at work.

Our clients spoke about not just the impact being in debt has on their home life, but secondly, how money worries seep into their performance at work.

Helen Clarke, Partnership Manager at PayPlan (centre)
Helen Clarke, Partnership Manager at PayPlan (centre)

Read Helen’s Blog

Working with clients dealing with both money and mental health problems

Working in debt advice is stressful. Particularly when you are regularly listening to the experiences of your clients which can often be very sad. Therefore, it’s important to look after yourself.

Research has shown there are 5 ways to wellbeing; keep active, connect with others, be mindful, give back and keep learning

Rethink’s five Adviser tips

PayPlan client stories and infographic

Money worries (and how to beat them)

In a three-year research project, Dr. Simon McNair at Leeds University Business School has worked with Citizens Advice in Leeds, and in Bradford to develop a freely-available advice booklet that can help debt advice clients cope with the emotional impacts that financial difficulties can bring.

Being in debt is often fraught with a range of negative emotional reactions. Stress, self-conscious feelings of guilt or shame, and low self-confidence are all emotional burdens that can interfere with how people confront their financial issues and undermine their attempts to take steps to overcome these issues.

Money worries and how to beat them

Read Simon’s post

Debt and Mental Health 2019 Downloadable Infographic

Download our free infographic, which shows key statistics from the recent survey.

Over 85% of clients reported that being in debt negatively impacted their mental health, reporting feelings of stress (91%), anxiety (84%) and depression (68%).

Debt and Mental Health in the UK

Download the infographic

Why more people should talk about debt

I was worried about paying my bills as a result of my ex son in law taking credit out in my name. I found it really hard to understand why someone you thought you could trust could do that to another human being.

I hope that my story will help, even if it’s just one person. Never be afraid to ask for help because the help is there and someone willing to listen and advise.

Christina Burns, a mother of three from the West Midlands, shares her experiences.

Read Christina’s story

Free Vulnerability Training

Based on our own adviser training, we offer a FREE course to help advisers understand what is meant by vulnerability. Get in touch today to book your free session.

Using real examples, we explore what’s expected by regulators and experts, offering practical insights on how to spot the signs of vulnerable clients and how to correctly record this information.

Support from partners

If an adviser feels a client may benefit from additional support, they can signpost them to external partners, including the Samaritans, Macmillan, Mind, GamCare and the Alzheimer’s Society, for specialist help.

Beryl started a DMP in January 2004. But during August 2016, her daughter contacted us to explain that Beryl had been diagnosed with dementia and had been moved into a residential care home. We sent her daughter a Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form so that information could be shared with her and Beryl’s creditors. A copy of her Mother’s I&E and creditor summary were sent and she explained that she had no idea of her mother’s financial situation. By December, Beryl’s income and expenditure had been updated to reflect her true circumstances. This had also been shared with all her creditors. By March 2017, the Vulnerable Client Team, working with creditors, wrote off Beryl’s total debt worth £21,353.21.

Beryl - March 2017

Alison called us to let us know that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would not be able to work or make payments to creditors for the foreseeable future. We asked for her consent to let us share the medical evidence to her creditors. Looking at her circumstances even token payments were not a feasible option. Our Vulnerable client team were able to cancel her standing order with creditors and get them to agree to place a hold on all her payments, due to Alison’s situation.

Alison - May 2017

Spencer contacted PayPlan to explain he had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and was struggling to work. The reduced working hours were affecting the surplus money available to pay creditors. Spencer gave us his consent to share this information with his creditors. He was able to work for a few hours each week, depending on how he felt, so the Vulnerable Client Team recommended asking creditors to freeze interest and charges. This would help with the payments he needed to make every month and stop the total amount of debt increasing. Seven of the nine creditors agreed and Spencer was able to meet his payments.


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