Scotland is “hurtling towards a mental health crisis” due to the cost of living crisis, a charity warned on Monday.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is calling for a sea-change in support offered to people who are in debt and struggling with the mental health due to rising costs.
It has published a new Good Practice guidance for creditors, to encourage them to foster more constructive practices aimed at helping people manage their finances, as well as their mental wellbeing, rather than punishing them for being unable to do so.
In February, the mental health charity SeeMe found that 59% of people in Scotland say the cost of living crisis is impacting their mental health.
The new CAS guidance sets out 10 key principles and invites creditors to consider what they are currently doing and what they could do to improve in each area. The guidance is being made available to lenders across the public and private sectors in Scotland.
CAS spokesperson Sarah-Jayne Dunn said: “Even as Scotland continues to make our way through the cost of living crisis, we are hurtling towards a mental health crisis as well, with the links between debt and poor mental health increasingly clear.
“People who are struggling with their health are less likely to be able to re-pay their arrears, so it makes sense all round for creditors to adopt a constructive approach to help consumers manage both their financial and their health situation. This guidance is all about helping them do that.
“Our guidance recognises that no two people with the same diagnosis of a mental health condition will have the same experience with their mental health. Multiple factors will interplay and interact including medication, available support networks and treatment.
“Therefore, treating customers as the experts on their own lives and being trusted as the best person to explain how their mental health condition impacts on them is a fundamental component to providing better support.
“By adopting our guidance, creditors can break this vicious cycle and care for their customers at a time when support for people’s mental health and money is needed now more than ever.”