Over a quarter of adults in the North East say that their personal or household finances are having a negative impact on their mental health, highlighting the impact of money worries on people’s overall well-being.

Research by ComRes on behalf of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 found that 27% of adults living across the region picked out money issues as a cause of mental strain from a list of common reasons for stress and anxiety.

And R3, whose members are qualified professionals who work to help people with money worries improve their financial situations, is using World Mental Health Day (10 October) to reinforce the importance of taking steps to solve growing personal debt problems before they become overwhelming.

Financial matters came out top in the research, ahead of UK or global current events (14%), relationships with family or friends (both 12%) and personal or family members’ health issues (11%), while six per cent of those surveyed said the finances of other family members who didn’t live with them were currently having a negative impact on their mental health.

North East England has had the highest rate for personal insolvency of any region in England and Wales for each of the last nine years.

According to the most recent annual Insolvency Service figures, there were 25.3 individual insolvencies per 10,000 people in the North East last year, which are comprised of bankruptcies, Debt Relief Orders (DROs) and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs).
 
It represents a rise on the regional rate in 2015 of 22.6 individual insolvencies per 10,000 people, and is over 25% higher than the 2016 rate of 19.7 cases per 10,000 people across England and Wales as a whole.

County Durham was the North East local authority area with the highest personal insolvency rate in 2016 (28.8 per 10,000 people), ahead of South Tyneside (28.1), North Tyneside (27.4), Gateshead (27), and Darlington and Sunderland (both 26.3).

 Neil Harrold, chair of R3 in the North East and a partner with Hay & Kilner Law Firm, says: “World Mental Health Day is an apt time to remind ourselves that, whatever else is going on in the world, things much closer to home are most likely to affect people’s mental health.

 “No matter how old you are, where you live, or what you do, personal finance concerns, whether about your own or others’ finances, have a significant impact on your well-being.

 “Much more needs to be done to ensure that people are informed about what their options are when they encounter financial problems so that they can deal with them without unnecessary stress. Improving financial education and financial capability could have a huge, positive impact on the country’s mental health.

“The personal insolvency regime is there to help people with very serious financial problems resolve their debts and the associated stress, and then start again financially.

“It’s essential for anyone who thinks their financial situation is getting out of hand to proactively seek from a qualified source as early as they can, so that they can gain access to the biggest range of ways in which they can put things right again.”

NINE TOP TIPS FROM R3 NORTH EAST FOR DEALING WITH DEBT
1. Acknowledge the problem. Avoiding personal finance problems will only make them worse.
2. Ask for help. Professional advice is readily available and is often free of charge, whether it’s an initial meeting with a licenced insolvency practitioner, or help from the National Debtline, or a local Citizens Advice Bureau.
3. Prioritise the payments of your debts. An advisor, as mentioned above, can help.
4. Budget. Be honest with yourself, identify your essential financial commitments and cut back on luxuries. At the very least, maintain the minimum monthly credit card payments to retain your credit rating while you sort out your finances.
5. Communicate with your creditors. By getting in touch with your creditors at an early stage, you can give them an opportunity to help that might not be there in future.
6. Be transparent. Give full details about your financial situation to both your advisor and your creditors.
7. Take your time before choosing the solution that’s right for you. Don’t allow yourself to be pressurised, and make sure you are taking advice from a regulated professional.
8. Don’t keep digging. Avoid turning to new credit cards or payday loans to plug the gap in your day-to-day finances. This might only make your situation worse.
9. Learn about your options. If you require a formal insolvency procedure, there are a number of options appropriate to different levels of debt. Formal options include Debt Relief Orders (DROs) for smaller debts, Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), and bankruptcy. It will cost more time and money if you start off in the wrong solution, so make sure you take advice about all the options open to you.