What is the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form?
Money advisers are celebrating what is being seen as a big win. Across the UK doctors have agreed to stop charging their patients fees to complete forms that can help them with their debts.
The Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF) is a form that money advisers can use when negotiating on behalf of clients, who are struggling with mental health problems. It allows them to get from doctors information about their client’s mental health problems, which once shared with creditors, helps them make better decisions for their customers.
This can include giving their customers:
- More time to make repayments;
- Allowing periods of non-payment where interest and charges are frozen; and
- Even agreeing to write off all or part of their debts.
The tool ultimately is also designed to help consumers to manage their finances better.
However, despite being in existence for over 10 years and been shown to be highly effective in helping consumers struggling with debt and mental health problems, some GPs have been charging fees of up to £100 to complete the form.
This is despite substantial evidence that there is a strong link between debt and mental health problems.
Campaign to End the Fees
The campaign to end the fees was launched by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and has led to the British Medical Association agreeing that doctors should no longer charge fees for completing the forms.
Speaking about the victory, consumer champion, Martin Lewis has said:
“We’re over the moon that the British Medical Association has finally agreed to stop people with mental health and debt problems being charged for the paperwork they need to get help.
“These charges can play havoc with people’s financial and mental wellbeing, often when they are at their lowest ebb – leaving many avoiding asking for the help they desperately need.”
Chris Fitch, who is a researcher with the Money Advice Trust, and one of the original architects of the form said:
“When we designed the form our aim was simple – give debt advisers and creditors the information they need to help people in often terrible situations.
“However, the charges levied by some GPs for providing this evidence often stopped this help being given.
“Today’s announcement means that this charging should stop. This makes total sense.”
How do you use the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form?
The DMHEF is not designed to be used by consumers themselves but is a tool for the adviser’s to use to help their clients.
It also a tool that shows creditors how their customers are coping with their finances and what impact debts are having on their mental health, often leading to the creditors exercising a greater degree of forbearance in how they treat their customers.
In extreme cases, creditors will even agree to write off the debt where it can be evidenced that the stress and anxiety of someone’s debt are having an oppressive effect on them and is detrimentally affecting their mental health.
Speaking about the victory, Stephanie Chapman of Creditfix has welcomed it.
“At Creditfix, we have been highlighting the link between debt and mental health problems for several years now and our ambassador, Gail Porter, has bravely spoken out about how her own struggle with mental health problems led to her declaring herself bankrupt.”
“It is vital where people are struggling that they can evidence their mental health problems to those they borrowed money from, in order that those lenders can treat them fairly and make appropriate decisions about how their debts should be dealt with going forward”
“The fees that some medical professionals have been charging have been an obstacle to that and left the most vulnerable struggling to get the help they need, unnecessarily exacerbating their mental health problems. Ironically this is the problem these professionals are supposed to be helping them with. The decision to end these fees is overdue but welcome”
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute have found that people with problem debt are more likely to experience mental health problems than people without mental health problems.
They have also found:
- Half of adults in problem debt also have a mental health problem.
- People with problem debt are twice as likely to develop major depression as those without problem debt.
- 86% of respondents to a Money and Mental Health survey said their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse
If you are struggling with problem debts and want to have a free and confidential chat with a money adviser, call Creditfix on 0808 2234 102.