But charity finds the debt trap leaves people with lower wellbeing in general
Getting to grips with our debt by putting a plan in place isn’t just good for our wallets, it turns out it’s helpful for our mental health too.
Christians Against Poverty spoke to 900 people who were either starting out with debt advice from the charity or in the middle of a debt management plan.
The mental wellbeing of their clients was five points lower than the average across the country at 21 out of 35 points. Their clients said they rarely or never felt relaxed (30 per cent), didn’t feel close to people (23 per cent) and rarely or never felt useful (23 per cent).
But scores for financial and mental wellbeing were higher for people with a plan in place for their debt, especially for those able to pay through a debt management plan.
The debt problem
In its report, Shipshape or sinking ship?, the charity says that debt is now such a major problem in our lives that it should be named a public health issue to encourage better ways of tackling it.
They also want more research to be done into the link between our mental health, support networks and the results of getting debt advice so that services can be improved in future.
And insolvency fees should be ditched so that all of us who take steps to address our debt can get a management plan in place as soon as possible – because this will help our mental wellbeing.
Get a debt plan in place
It’s easy for us to feel trapped and overwhelmed by our debt, but sitting still is one of the worst things we can do.
We should seek help as soon as we realise we’re struggling to make ends meet – but it’s important to stick to not-for-profit advice agencies rather than private companies that may charge us for their advice.
As the Christians Against Poverty study showed, we tend to feel better when there’s someone on our side and when we feel like there’s a plan in place for getting back on track.
Talking to someone trustworthy and getting support also helps to end the shame associated with debt.
Read more of our advice for tackling debt here.