Experts are calling for mental health and financial advice to be linked after research revealed how many people who are behind on at least one important bill have recently experienced a mental health issue.

A YouGov poll found that people who have had a mental health issue in the last two years are three times more likely to have fallen behind in paying at least one bill.

Out of those who completed the poll, 12% reported being behind on a payment such as energy or rent. Around half of this group said they have had a recent mental health issue, which equates to around three million people.

The charity which carried out the poll, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, has said mental health and money support services should be more joined up, which could also relieve pressure on the NHS.

The charity’s chair and founder, Martin Lewis, said: “The cost of living crisis shows no sign of abating, and even if it does, the fallout will last years. Financial problems and mental health issues are locked together, it’s about time treatments were linked too.

“For many years, therapists, mental health nurses and social workers have told us they often spend substantial, valuable clinical time helping people with their finances. It makes more sense to leave debt help professionals to do that and take some pressure off the NHS, letting clinicians focus on helping people get better.”

The poll found that out of those people with mental health issues who had fallen behind on payments, 60% said they felt unable to cope, but only 9% had received financial advice.

Dr Subodh Dave, dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Debt may have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families.

“Clinicians can play their part by enquiring about their patients’ financial situations and how this might be affecting their mental health. Collaboration is needed from a range of other bodies including financial advice services and social care organisations.”

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said that offering financial advice alongside NHS talking therapies should become standard practice. Its experts have estimated that this kind of joined up working could save the government around £140m a year and double recovery rates for those with depression who are in debt.

These measures could also help an additional 27,000 people with mental health issues each year while cutting waiting times for help with mental health.

A spokesperson for the government said: “We’re investing £2.3bn of extra funding a year by March 2024 to expand and transform mental health services in England, to treat an additional 2 million patients.

“We’ve also helped nearly 2 million people out of absolute poverty since 2010, and provided a £94bn support packages – worth about £3,300 per household – to help those most in need.”

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