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Donít let debt depress you

28 June 2011

Southern Health and Social Care Trust News Release on Debt


There is a strong relationship between debt and mental illness. Debt can lead to mental illness and mental illness can lead to debt, creating a vicious cycle, according to a mental health specialist at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

Dr Liz McMonagle, Consultant Clinical Psychologist in Adult Mental Health at Daisy Hill Hospital, explains, “There is a clear link between debt, worry and mental health problems. The psychological states associated with debt and gambling can cause a range of difficulties: relationships can break down and shame, depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, drug misuse and suicidal states of mind can feel utterly disabling. Such loss is unquantifiable in terms of money. The hardest step is making that first call but individuals and families need to know that help is available. It is important that you get advice and support as soon as you find yourself in a debt problem or experiencing any of the above symptoms. It is never ever too late to seek help and advice.”

Areport published in April this year by the Consumer Credit Counselling Service identified Northern Ireland as one of the UK's personal debt hotspots.The charity said it dealt with more bankruptcy cases in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK and that people did not usually ask for help until the problem was very serious.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimate that 1 in 2 people in debt have a mental health problem . A 2010 survey by debt counsellors Christians Against Poverty found that 44% of those seeking debt help had been prescribed medication by their GP to help them cope, 77% of those in a couple said that debt affected their relationship and 38% had considered or attempted suicide.

Deirdre McParland, Senior Health Promotion Officer for Mental Health at the Southern Trust, says that being in debt can make mental health problems worse.

“Debt is not just a financial problem but can have a serious impact on a person’s mental health in terms of anxiety and stress, depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts. It can cause people to become excluded making mental health problems worse. Fortunately there is help available for anyone in this situation. No debt problems are unsolvable and the earlier they are dealt with the better. Tackling debt as soon as it starts to mount up can help prevent mental health problems associated with debt.”

Advice NI,Debt Action NI, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service andAdvice4debtare just some of the organisations that offer free, independentconfidential, face to face debt advice services. They can provide debt advice oncreditcard debt, mortgage or rent arrears,bank loans, store cards and gambling.


For further information contact Lisa Cartmill,

Email: lisa.cartmill@southerntrust.hscni.net

Communications Manager, on (028) 3861 2579

Notes to Editor


The Protect Life Lifeline Helpline – 0808 808 8000 – offers support to anyone in distress or despair.


Think Family Project: The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has funded a Mental Health and Children’s Services Project for a three-year period, to focus on improving joint working based on a family centred model of service delivery. The aim of this project is to improve the outcomes for parents with mental health illness and their families by establishing a ‘think child, think parent, think family’ model to service planning and delivery.

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