Samantha Allen, chief executive of the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), spoke earlier of a partnership between the NHS and financial support organization Money and Pensions Service. Health leaders in our region are eager to highlight the link between financial concerns and mental health, and have made reducing suicide rate a key goal.
Ms Allen, who took up the post at the newly created ICB this summer, said: “Many people are expecting a tough winter, with bills rising and energy costs skyrocketing. We all worry about money sometimes, but if is affecting your mental health, ask for help, don’t wait for things to get worse.
“Money concerns and suicide rate Problems often go hand in hand, and it makes a world of difference if you get help early. The cost of living is a real concern for people, but it’s okay to ask for help and there is plenty of support available. Health professionals have an important role to play, being aware of the risks and knowing what services can help with money problems. It can be difficult to bring up the subject, but we are working to help colleagues feel empowered to spot financial concerns and discuss them sensitively.”
Along with other NHS leaders, Ms Allen wanted to highlight the free professional help available to those worried about debt, credit and making ends meet. This comes before Talk about money week which is an annual event organized by the MPS.
Starting November 7, there will be a week of events designed to help people talk more openly about money. Sarah Murphy, senior director of health, social care and wellness systems strategy at MPS, said, “Open and honest discussions about money help us build financial confidence and resilience to face whatever the future throws at us. They also lead to stronger personal relationships. and better mental health, while at the same time reducing the stress and anxiety that money problems can cause.”
In September, Samantha Allen wrote to energy regulator OFGEM warning of risks to vulnerable people caused by the cost of living crisis and rising energy bills. She said that people were already in hospital as a result of the crisis.
The NHS has pointed to a variety of free resources:
- For debt and spending advice, Money Helper is available at moneyhelper.org.uk and on 0800 138 7777. Local councils can also provide advice and support.
- For help with your mental health, visit nhs.uk/mental-healthtalk to your GP or call NHS 111.
- The governments “room to breathe” The plan is available to those with problematic debt; can provide a respite period of up to 60 days.
- Anyone receiving mental health crisis treatment has the option of the mental health crisis respite system, which provides temporary protection from creditors, including freezing most interest, fees, and charges on debt and pausing most execution actions. It lasts for the duration of the mental health crisis treatment plus 30 days.
- Mental health nurses, social workers and other professionals can refer you to specialized mental health and financial advice services if they think you are eligible. Visit mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org for more details.
- Anyone who has power supply issues could be eligible to be on their providers’ “priority services registry” – this is for vulnerable people like retirees, people who rely on power for medical equipment, or are otherwise vulnerable . Contact your energy supplier about it.