Online scheme tackles financial difficulties and mental health

Health tech company SilverCloud has launched the first evidence-based online scheme addressing the vicious cycle of financial difficulties and mental health challenges.

Called Space from Money Worries, the programme will be available on the NHS to tackle the practical and emotional elements of financial difficulties.

Designed to target links between finances and mental health, the scheme helps individuals learn skills to challenge negative thoughts around finances, learn about avoidance behaviour, and feel more confident about facing financial fears.

The scheme includes strategies to boost mood without spending and reduce impulse spending.

The programme will be made available to SilverCloud’s UK healthcare partners, including 60% of NHS mental healthcare providers, as well as organisations such as Bupa and Nuffield Health.

It will also be made available to financial services institutions seeking to meet current and upcoming regulatory requirements to assist vulnerable customers.

Space from Money Worries was developed in collaboration with Dr Thomas Richardson, a clinical psychologist who has published extensively on the relationship between financial difficulties and mental health problems.

Dr Thomas Richardson
Dr Thomas Richardson

Richardson said: “Financial difficulties and mental health problems are often part of the same problem, but most support options treat them individually, offering debt advice separately from mental health help.”

“So, for example, you might be offered a debt advice appointment but if you are so anxious you can’t face it then it won’t help.”

“Space from Money Worries tackles the root psychological mechanisms which lead to the cycle of financial difficulties and poor mental health: the negative thinking patterns which prevent you tackling your debt, the worry and avoidance which stops you seeking financial help, the impulse spending which digs you deeper into a debt cycle.”

The UK government is also addressing the link between debt and mental health – the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, recently passed in the House of Commons, ensures people under crisis care for mental health problems will not be pursued by financial institutions.

And in February last year the first ever Financial Services Vulnerability Taskforce, created by the financial services industry and charities, published a report outline best practice recommendations for the industry.

A total of 25 banks, building societies and other finance companies have agreed to follow the principles of good behaviour. Consumer groups such as the Money Advice Trust are also involved.

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