Is our debt obsession ruining our mental health ?
How often do you see or hear people talking about their inability to be able to afford something or going somewhere because of being strapped for cash? We now care more about our image than we do our finances. No one wants to admit they cannot afford to do something.
The social media epidemic that has boomed over the last five years has created a generation obsessed with making their lives look perfect. To do so, and to keep up with and compete with each other, usually this means spending money. For those who have the surplus income to maintain their lifestyle, this isn’t a problem; however for others who don’t this usually means one thing – credit and debt.
Designer clothes, multiple annual holidays, new cars on credit agreements, nights out in clubs and expensive restaurants are just some of the things which people do just to post photos and update their profiles to “show off” their amazing lifestyles to others. Unfortunately, this also means for a lot of people they are living beyond their means and sinking into debt just to portray an image.
For those on social media, how often do you see or hear people talking about their inability to be able to afford something or going somewhere because of being strapped for cash? We now care more about our image than we do our finances. No one wants to admit they cannot afford to do something, which leads us to the other problem, the effect this debt can have on our mental health.
We are now so exposed to social media and it is entrenched in our lives to the point where for some it is an addiction. This can lead people to develop negative mental well-being and generate feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, and that everyone must portray the perfect image of their lives. For those who borrow to achieve this and end up in debt, this can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues which can then make it hard to manage the debts.
Financial difficulties and mental health problems go hand in hand and unfortunately exasperate each other. When suffering from mental health issues dealing with creditors can feel like an impossible task. Having to open letters, make decisions, manage deadlines and speaking to the creditors can feel burdensome and the usual reaction for people with mental health issues is to bury their head in the sand, hoping the issues will go away. As we know, they won’t.
What clients need to realise is that creditors have to treat them fairly; the FCA who regulates them sees this as a priority and the creditor must abide by the Standards of Lending Practise which sets out exactly how a creditor should assist vulnerable clients. The creditors cannot use these procedures unless the client has told them about their situation. Once a client discloses their mental health problems to the creditors they are revealing they are vulnerable, and the creditor must consider refraining from commencing any legal or court action if the action is likely to exacerbate a mental health condition. If a client talks to the creditor they will treat them as someone who is unable to pay rather than someone who doesn’t want to pay.
Also, for a lot of people telling the creditor is the first step towards talking it through with someone else, a family member, a friend or a debt adviser. This helps get it out in the open and the client realises that they will receive support, not criticism.
The underlying message for clients to remember is they are not alone; there are thousands of people in Northern Ireland who are worried about their debts and have mental health problems. They just need to reach out and get the financial and emotional support they need to make their lives better.