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The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 is ‘loneliness,’ a word we’ve all become a little more accustomed to, ever since the Covid-19 pandemic swept us off our feet.

This year we’re working with StepChange Debt Charity to highlight the connection between loneliness and debt. They work with thousands of people each week, all of whom are dealing with myriad feelings alongside their debt problem, a main one being loneliness.

Feeling lonely can severely compromise our mental health, in turn impacting our ability to effectively manage bills, budgets, and other financial responsibilities. Studies show that lonely people feel more stressed, have lower self-esteem and struggle with insomnia. During the various lockdowns, the Mental Health Foundation shared that “loneliness was almost three times that of pre-pandemic levels.”

Poor mental health remains closely associated with debt problems, as dealing with debt can be a very isolating and lonely experience. The stigma attached to money troubles makes it difficult to talk about them, especially with those closest to you. Unfortunately, this can create an even bigger burden to carry.


Talk to someone you trust

In 2021, 39% of new StepChange clients were experiencing some form of impaired mental health at the time of advice. Their annual debt statistics report reveals the most common forms were depression (13%), stress or anxiety (13%), a physical disability (7%), suicidal tendencies (6%) or domestic violence (5%).

Many deal with their debt in silence because they feel a sense of shame about their financial situation. This prevents them from accessing the support they need, whether that’s emotional support from family and friends, support from creditors, or seeking out independent debt advice.

It’s possible that others around you are also dealing with debt problems of their own. Talking honestly and openly about your debt can be helpful for everyone and make you feel less alone. There are several benefits to talking to someone about debt, but sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start.

Here are just a few examples of how you can start a conversation:

  • Share your savings goals or top money-saving tips
  • Ask friends for help creating a weekly or monthly budget
  • Compare mobile phone costs, TV streaming subscriptions or broadband packages to discover the best deals
  • Discuss any life-changing events that can impact finances, such as retirement, long-term care, or problem debt


Accessing free debt advice and resources

Over 50% of people in debt wait a year or more before seeking help with their money. As time progresses, they often find their situation gets worse.

Organisations like StepChange offer support and expert advice to help you deal with your debts. If you find talking about your debt difficult, you can also get advice anonymously through their online debt help service.

To ensure the advice and solutions offered are correct and tailored to your situation, they’ll need some information about your financial situation:

  1. They’ll ask about your finances, to help you create a realistic monthly budget and see what you can afford to pay towards your debts, if anything
  2. You’ll receive comprehensive debt advice contained in a personal action plan, along with their recommendation for how to deal with the debt. They offer the widest range of solutions of any debt advice organisation in the UK, including repayment solutions such as debt management plans and insolvency solutions like debt relief orders. They also offer a range of debt solutions if you live in Scotland, and Equity Release if you’re eligible
  3. You’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision on what to do next, and StepChange can also help you to set your solution and give you further support

Their team of experts utilise more than 25 years of experience – that’s why you can be confident their advice is always centred around what’s best for you. It’s also free, impartial, and completely confidential.

While StepChange Debt Charity are great at providing free debt advice to clients with varying states of vulnerability, please refer to mental health organisations like Mind or Samaritans if you require immediate crisis support. MyBnk also have some free resources to help young people manage money on their youth hub.