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calendar03 June 2020

Author: Kiri Saunders

The big debate

The big debate

Yesterday CAP took part in a debate all about poverty, justice and mental health. 

The debate was hosted by Patrick Regan, founder of Kintsugi Hope, a charity striving to make a difference to people's mental wellbeing. Paula Stringer, our CEO, was one of the panelists. 

In this extremely difficult time, widespread issues like poverty and mental ill-health have been exacerbated. Panelists at the debate spoke about the growing levels of anxiety and depression due to the pandemic, as well as those now struggling to get by on low incomes, who may continue to struggle for some time. Action needs to be taken from the Government, society as a whole and individually. We can all play a part to speak out against injustice.  


What we know

In our experience, debt and mental health are often found hand-in-hand. Mental ill-health can make managing finances harder, and worrying about money can make someone’s mental health worse. Often you don’t just treat one, but both. To make things harder, the stigma associated with debt and mental health problems can prevent people from seeking help or speaking up about it with friends or family. 

CAP has found that two in five (40%) clients struggle with a mental health issue and three in five (61%) say that debt caused their mental health to deteriorate. We also know that people with a long-term mental health problem are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than those without. Debt can make you feel trapped, with no way out, sadly 34% of CAP clients have considered or attempted suicide in their desperation.


Debt, mental ill-health and COVID-19: a perfect storm?

The world we now live in is unrecognisable to that of just a few months ago. Despite sharing the experience of COVID-19 worldwide, we are all faced with individual uncertainties around our finances, social lives and futures. For many, COVID-19 has created a perfect storm of personal and financial crisis. We are seeing heightened levels of anxiety and depression across the nation and one in five households are now struggling to pay their bills.

The lockdown has also had an adverse effect on those who were already struggling with mental health problems by exacerbating preexisting conditions, as seen in the client story below. Existing support to help people struggling with mental ill-health has been stopped due to social distancing measures and so some are receiving support via phone calls. However, others cannot afford phone credit or broadband, leaving them instantly cut off from friends and family, unable to contact anyone to ask for help.

CAP client Sarah said, ‘My mental health has really been affected by this. I’m really finding it hard not seeing my children. 

I think it’s bad that the mental health team hasn't called. I haven't had check-up calls. If we were seeing people weekly, which I was, surely we should be getting a phone call? It’s not just me, it’s a lot of people.’


The stigma attached

Both debt and mental ill-health have stigmas attached, which means that people can feel ashamed of their situation or face discrimination from others. It can also mean that people don’t seek the help they need when they need it. Events like The Big Debate help in raising awareness and breaking down stigmas associated with these important topics. 

The good news is that the local Church and CAP are well placed to reach out and support people struggling with their mental health. Even during lockdown, CAP Debt Coaches have been supporting clients through encouraging messages and phone calls and referring clients to CAP’s emergency support line.

‘My CAP Debt Coach messaged me yesterday. I’m not always good at getting back to people but she has messaged throughout.’ - Sarah, CAP Debt Help client

Kintsugi Hope’s mission is to create a world where mental and emotional health is understood and accepted, with safe and supportive communities for everyone to grow and flourish. We can all play our part to check our own attitudes, speak-up about these issues and look out for others who may need support. 


To find out more about Kintsugi Hope, and their church Wellbeing Groups visit their website

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