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New scheme to help people suffering from poor mental health with finances

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Written by: Emma Lunn
25/06/2019
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has launched the ‘mental health accessible standards’ to help financial firms address the challenges people with mental health issues face when dealing with them.

Lloyds​ Bank​ has signed up to become the first major bank to be tested against the standards which aim to make essential services easier to use.

Research​ by Money and Mental Health shows that four in 10 people with mental health problems have ‘admin anxiety’ – leaving them unable to effectively use essential service providers such as banks, energy suppliers, water companies, and broadband or mobile phone providers. More than half face difficulties using the phone to carry out essential admin.

A YouGov poll of 2,000 adults highlighted the psychological harm caused by these difficulties. It found that nearly one in five (18 per cent) people with a recent mental health issue have cried while dealing with an essential services provider, compared to just 5 per cent who have not had a mental health problem recently or ever.

People with mental health problems are also more than three times as likely to have lost sleep over a problem with essential services ​(29 per cent compared to just 9 per cent of people who have not had a mental health problem recently or ever).

Worryingly, more than one in five (22 per cent) people with a recent mental health problem say they have had a panic attack​ as a result of dealing with an essential services provider.

Breaking the link

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is a charity founded by MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis. It aims to break the link between poor mental health and financial difficulty.

Lloyds Bank has partnered with Money and Mental Health to pilot the new standards. This will see the charity evaluate how accessible Lloyds’ services are for customers with mental health problems, and make recommendations on how they can be made easier to use​.

After the pilot, Money and Mental Health hopes to extend the mental health accessible standards to firms across financial services, telecoms, energy and water​.

Martin Lewis, founder and chair of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “Dealing with essential services can at times be frustrating and difficult for all of us. Yet for some of the 12 million people in the UK with mental health problems, fear or difficulties navigating through the bureaucracy can lead to them being locked out, unable to use or pay for electricity, water, banking, the internet and more.

“Many firms already rightly make adjustments for people with physical or sensory conditions, yet until now they haven’t done the same for customers with mental health problems – leaving a significant number of people at financial disadvantage or, at its worst, a psychological risk.”

Fiona Cannon, group responsible business, sustainability and inclusion director for Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Our purpose is to help Britain prosper and our ambition is to shift mindsets to recognise that we all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. We believe that with the right support we can help our customers and colleagues with mental health conditions to thrive.”

 

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