Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham has recently thrown his support behind a new campaign, which seeks to support people in debt crisis that suffer from mental health issues. The campaign has been launched by the Money and mental Health Policy Institute, and has brought cross-party support, as well as the backing of a number of charities such as Mind, Rethink and StepChange.
A new investigation by the charity, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, has revealed that one in three people who ask for the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form are being charged. This is resulting in people going without support or racking up more debt just to pay their GP.
One in four people with a mental health problem is also in problem debt. Research by Money and Mental Health has shown that mental health problems can make it harder both to earn and to manage money.
Many banks recognise this and are willing to offer extra financial support, freezing interest payments or even writing off some debts when people are struggling. But to access this help customers are often asked to provide evidence of their mental health problem, signed by a doctor. Since 2008, this has usually been done via a single form used by the credit industry, advice agencies like Citizens Advice and others.
The investigation by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute reveals that one in three people who asked their GP for this note were charged for it – some as much as £150, but typically £20-£50.
Jon Cruddas said: "this is an extremely important campaign, which rightfully shines a light on the correlation between mental health issues and worsening financial difficulties. The charge for a doctor's note in instances where finance is a major concern is an unnecessary measure, which should not be imposed on individuals in often desperate situations."
The #StopTheCharge campaign has brought together leading charities and organisations who have written to the UK Health Secretaries in support of Money and Mental Health's call demanding change.
Jon added: "I have added my name to the letter calling on the UK Health Secretaries to stop the charge by recategorising the form as an NHS form. It is important to highlight that imposing a fee in these situations holds the risk of making mental health problems worse. I am urging people to get behind this campaign by also signing the letter."
Those who want to support the campaign can sign a joint letter to the UK Health Secretaries at www.moneyandmentalhealth.org/stopthecharge