“When I was in hospital, I was so unwell, I was unable to fill in forms properly or access benefits I was entitled to, and this led to financial difficulties. Eventually I got the right help and advice and was able to learn the skills to manage my money permanently.” Carina Edwards
Hear Jo talk about the issues surrounding finance and money for people with a mental illness:
Managing your finances is another key aspect of recovery, especially as having enough money to be comfortable and free from financial worries contributes greatly to your quality of life.
1. What do you want to achieve?
Your long-term outcome may be to be able to afford a reasonable standard of living with a reliable income from employment and/or appropriate benefits; you may even want to specify a target income.
For some the aim may be to begin or continue to earn a salary or wage. For others the objective may be to maximise your social security, disability or other benefits and ensure you receive all monies you are entitled to. Getting a benefits check is often the best way to achieve this.
Keeping in control of your finances can contribute significantly to your sense of being in control of your own life. Your goal may be to better manage your income and expenditure. For others the aim will be to keep in control of their finances when they are in hospital and to plan ahead for when they are not well.
Many people with a mental illness have difficulties not only with unlicensed lenders (“loan sharks”) but with licensed banking and financial service industry sales people who may not understand your mental illness; others get into difficulty by inappropriately lending or giving money to friends and sometimes their own family when they are unwell: you can use this section of your Plan to get help to address problems or to avoid them in the future.
2. What actions need to be taken or services need to be provided to achieve your goals?
Next think about the actions that need to be taken to achieve your goals, and what services need to be provided to support you
Services could include:
● Benefits check (e.g. from the Citizens Advice Bureau)
● Debt advice service
● Banking service.
Actions could include:
● Accessing information and advice on debt or savings management
● Opening a new bank account
● Learning to bank online
● Getting advice, information or training in budgeting
● Creating a contingency plan for managing finances when you are in hospital
● Identifying someone to take control of your finances when you are not well
● Researching whether there are cheaper service suppliers for electricity, gas, etc.
● Researching which mortgage, pension or other financial product is best for you
● Applying for a student loan by setting up a student finance account
● Shopping around for better deals on groceries, petrol, insurance, etc.
3. Who can support you to achieve your goals?
The Citizens Advice Bureau is a very useful source of financial advice and support, especially when it comes to issues such as debt management. Other supporters may include:
Other supporters may include:
● Benefits advisor
● Bank manager
● Debt counsellor
● Welfare Rights Office
● Student Finance Wales
● Money Advice Service
● A family member and/or other carer
● Care Coordinator
More resources and links on Finance and Money
● For advice on benefits we strongly advise people with a mental illness to seek help from both from a specialist welfare rights agency and also from people with mental health expertise such as your psychiatrist or Care Coordinator.
● Ask locally if there is a specialist welfare rights advisor or find your local Citizens Advice Bureau on this link https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-we-provide-advice/advice/ – the search facility is bottom right.
● If you want detailed information on benefits then see the CAB information here https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/
● When applying for benefits take care to describe your illness accurately. Of course you should be truthful but beware of asserting that you are more able than you really are.
● For advice on general money-related matters we recommend the “Money Saving Expert” on this link http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/
● Some people with a mental illness are vulnerable to losing money to fraudsters, loansharks or even “friends”, especially if they become unwell. You may want to make arrangements in your care plan to avoid this. In some cases families may want to seek legal advice to protect significant resources in the long-term through a trust arrangement.