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Survey shows effect of debt on young people's mental health

A group of 12 diverse people, standing in a line. There are symbols for money and the Silver Cloud logo above their heads.

British survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of SilverCloud Health

London, October, 10, 2018 - This year’s World Mental Health Day theme is “Young people and mental health in a changing world”. To mark the day global health tech company SilverCloud Health is revealing results from a British survey, conducted on their behalf by YouGov, on the effects of debt and financial difficulty on mental health.

The figures, which focus on the 18-24-year-old demographic, come at a time of reflection as banks and the media increasingly turn their attention to the issue of debt and mental health.

Dr Derek Richards, Chief Science Officer at SilverCloud Health stated: “World Mental Health Day is an extremely important time for us to reflect on the work that has been done and what still remains to be done to better support everyone affected by debt and mental health. We applaud the fact that this year’s chosen theme is young people. Among the many challenges faced by this demographic, many are leaving third level education with the burden of student loans, while trying to make the transition to working life. Our survey strongly indicates that young people are concerned about financial difficulties and debt and in some cases this is having a real impact on their mental health and future outlook.

Among the findings:

  • 24% of 18-24 year olds say that they have already personally experienced financial difficulties or debt
    • Of these:
      • 81% said that debt and financial difficulties have negatively affected their mental health
      • 31% have sought mental health support, either with a doctor or a specialist mental health clinician
      • 84% said debt and financial difficulty caused them general anxiety about their future
      • 73% have experienced low mood/ feelings of hopelessness as a result of debt/financial difficulty
      • 69% have worried about unpaid bills
      • 70% of 18-24 year olds believe that the NHS is responsible for supporting those whose mental health is affected by financial worries, 38% said this responsibility lies with financial institutions (e.g. bank, loan provider etc.), while 26% said that this is the responsibility of the financial regulator
      • 60% believe that the number of people struggling with personal debt in Britain will increase in 5 years
      • 18-24’s were the age group most in favour of providing access to supportive tools, including online mental health resources to banking customers to help them more effectively manage their debt/financial difficulties
      • Nearly 70% of surveyed 18-24-year old’s also agreed that if financial institutions were to offer these kinds of online mental health support to their customers that it would help them more easily confront and handle their debt.

“The links between debt and mental health are particularly pertinent to this demographic. A solid foundation of early mental health support and intervention can provide the kind of mental resilience needed to face the many challenges on the road ahead.”

“Financial institutions too are growing in their awareness of the relationship between debt and mental health, and we look forward to a future where they are more mindful of the need to support customers in financial distress” he added.

In July, SilverCloud Health launched Space From Money Worries, a specialised online mental health programme, developed by their clinicians for the financial services sector. The programme was developed by SilverCloud Health’s clinical team and industry experts to help tackle the kind of psychological mechanisms which lead to the cycle of financial difficulties and thus poor mental health. These mechanisms include negative thinking patterns and avoidance behaviours which can prevent people from tackling debt, and can exacerbate impulse spending, which in turn can increase their debt burden.

The health tech provider has developed a suite of over thirty different programmes focused on providing behavioural health for all and support for those suffering with specialised mental health disorders including depression and bipolar disorder. Several of these programmes focus on mental health maintenance, such as resilience and sleep. The aim is to enhance patient capacity to face, overcome and strengthen difficult experiences in order to avoid the likelihood of mental health conditions.

About SilverCloud Health

SilverCloud Health is a multi-award winning global health tech company; since launching in 2012 it has gone on to support 220 organisations across its global customer base, delivering a suite of over 30 clinically effective online programmes.

Today, SilverCloud Health’s extensive library of evidence-based programmes address a broad spectrum of conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety as well as specific programmes for long-term chronic conditions (diabetes, COPD, and chronic pain). Over 15 years of academic research and clinically led randomised controlled trials (RCT) demonstrate SilverCloud Health programmes are extremely effective, engaging for patients and provide positive outcomes on a par with face-to-face therapy.

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