Continuous intimidation from debt collectors and irresponsible lending is leading to a rise in depression and suicide according to a report published by the University of Brighton.
The report entitled ‘Responsible individuals and irresponsible institutions? Mental Health and the UK credit industry’ says that debt is set to have a huge impact on the public health sector. The university conducted interviews with debt counsellors, debt clients, employees recruited from the financial sector and other relevant stakeholders to investigate the relationship between depression and debt.
The report revealed that unexpected life events caused debt more so than irrational spending. Those in debt are no more likely to over-spend than those who are not in debt, however – they are generally on lower incomes. Long-term health costs were highlighted within the report as incomes fall, benefits are cut and inflation rises.
It also said ‘a deeply problematic culture of irresponsible lending’ has become the norm within the financial sector. Examples of this include the practice of cold-calling customers in a bid to sell them credit, giving the customer the impression they are genuinely assessing their needs or introducing a new service.
Those in debt described being harassed, patronised and bullied because of their financial status. They also said they found themselves subject to ‘distressing and persistent collection tactics that frequently constituted abuse’. The report stated that these factors have a clear impact on mental health and often induce feelings of depression, despair and suicidal thoughts.
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