Wednesday, June 29, 2022
NewsHealthStudy finds link between poor mental health and escaping debt problems

Study finds link between poor mental health and escaping debt problems

A SCOTS university has published new research examining the impact of mental health on debt advice adherence.

The study, published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry, was led by researchers at the University of Aberdeen Business School and Queen’s University Belfast.

A total of 86 participants completed the survey measuring their mental health, recall of information discussed during debt advice appointments, attitudes towards IVAs and the level of trust in the advisors.

Their adherence to the guidance given was measured 10 weeks later.

money problem picture
A total of 86 participants answered the survey. Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Researchers found that participants who suffered from worse mental health were less likely to have followed the advice they had received than those with better mental health.

Dr Nicole Andelic, Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen and co-author of the report said: “By working with a financial organisation we were given a rare opportunity to study individuals seeking debt advice who were told they were eligible to apply for a structured repayment plan that would run for five years before their remaining debt was written off.

“What it showed us was that although debt may lead to worse mental health, poor mental health also correlates with difficulties escaping from problem debt.

“Our study also suggests that people with very severe debt problems have substantially poorer mental health than the general population, regardless of whether they adhere to debt advice or not.

“This means that the people who need the advice most may be the least likely to follow it.

“As a result, mental health needs to be taken into consideration when advising people with debt problems.”

The survey came as millions of people prepare to face financial problems and increased debt as the cost-of-living crisis deepens and as one in four people in the UK are experiencing mental health issues.

Deputy Head of the School of Psychology, Queens’s University of Belfast said: “Unfortunately, the experiences of people with problem debts have not received enough attention from researchers or from policy makers.

“Our results suggest that having poor mental health may make it harder to escape from the misery caused by problematic levels of debt.

“As well as advice on the mechanisms available to them, people with problem debts need support as they make very difficult decisions between the available options.”

The research was funded by the Business Alliance Office at Queen’s University Belfast, an independent insolvency practitioner and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

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