It’s estimated that around 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem this year. Unfortunately, mental health issues often go hand-in-hand with debt issues – with each proven to have a significant effect on the other.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at The Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form – an official form that was designed to help creditors (the people you owe money to) to understand how they can best support someone who is struggling with their mental health.
What is the Debt And Mental Health Evidence Form?
The Debt And Mental Health Evidence Form (often referred to as the ‘DMHEF’) was introduced in 2008 by the Money Advice Liaison Group. It is used to keep creditors informed about a customer’s mental health situation.
Since it can only be completed by a health professional, the form gives an objective view of your mental health. This really just means that creditors aren’t relying on using their own judgement or trying to help a customer without professional advice.
Importantly, it also means that creditors can’t ignore an indebted person’s mental health. They will be expected to change how you are dealt with after they have received the Debt And Mental Health Evidence Form.
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What kind of mental health issues will be considered?
There’s no set list of mental health issues that will automatically get different treatment from a creditor – but if you have any issues around money and you have a mental health condition, it’s worth talking to your medical professional about debt.
Despite recent changes in attitudes to both debt and mental health problems, there’s sometimes still a stigma around both. Debt is sometimes seen as something that just comes from poor money management – and mental health issues are often grouped together and thought about the same way.
The truth about both issues is very different. Debt can happen for countless reasons and is very rarely to do with poor money management. Also, mental health conditions are all different – some might make you unable to work, whereas other might involve spells where you are more reckless than you would be ordinarily.
This is why it’s important to have a mental health or medical professional complete your form. They will hopefully understand you and the issues you face – whereas less experienced people might not have the understanding of how mental health and money are connected.
How does the Debt And Mental Health Evidence Form Work?
The latest version of the DMHEF can be downloaded from the Money Advice Trust website. When downloaded and printed, you’ll need a health or social care professional to fill it in for you.
Health or social care professionals include: social workers, nurses, GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, mental health therapists, and some support workers.
These are the steps you should follow to complete the DMHEF form:
- You should start by completing and signing the consent form that comes with the DMHEF. If you are signing the consent form on behalf of someone, you’ll need to attach a copy of the Power of Attorney confirmation you have to prove you have the authority to do this.
- Now, you should give the consent form and the blank copy of the DMHEF to your GP or another professional involved in your support. Ask them to complete it and return it to you. All questions should be answered in full.
- When complete, the form should be sent to your creditor.
Important point 1:
The form must be stamped by the professional who has completed it. If it is not stamped, it will not be used.
Important point 2:
Question 4 on the form is very important:
“Q4. Does the person have a mental health problem that affects their ability to manage their money?”
The question should be answered with a ‘yes’ – with as much detail added about how your mental health condition makes it harder for you to manage your money.
What happens next?
When a creditor receives the DMHEF, they are required to consider the information and think about ways they can better support you with your debt problems. In some cases, they may ask for further information from the medical professional – but this is quite rare.
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What kind of help will I get if a creditor receives a Debt And Mental Health Evidence Form about me?
Again, because everyone’s circumstances and mental health problems are a little different, there’s no single way that a creditor will help.
Instead, they’ll try to suggest ways that might be useful. That might be putting a freeze on your available credit and stopping any additional interest payments. Then again, it might be that they are more flexible with repayments if there are some times when you are able to work and some times when you’re not.
They may even just agree to changing the way that they communicate with you. Being anxious about debt is a common feeling – so agreeing to stop debt collection letters or constant phone calls might be a big help.
It’s very rare for a creditor to write off a debt completely.
How much does it cost to get someone to fill out the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form for me?
If you’re based in England, professionals can no longer charge any fee for completing the DMHEF. This is one of the changes that was brought in with the most recent amendments to the form.
Unfortunately, this change hasn’t been rolled out in other parts of the UK yet. However, if a professional asks for payment, you may be able to speak to someone else involved with your support and ask them to do it instead.
Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form FAQs
We talked to lots of people about their issues with debt, so we’re well placed to answer some common questions about the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form.
Is it okay if a friend or a family member fills the form out for me?
No. The medical or mental health professional that’s completing the form for you may collect external evidence from you, friends, or family – but the form and information about your mental health problems will not be considered unless it’s completed by a professional.
Do creditors have to receive a DMHEF before they can help me?
No, they do not. Especially now, with the on-going cost of living crisis affecting millions of people, creditors will often be able to help with debt issues even if they haven’t received official notification of the mental health condition you have. Therefore, if you’re struggling now, the best plan is to always speak to the person or company you owe money to, to see if they can help.
I can only find version 4 of the DMHEF – is this the right one?
Yes, it is. Recently, the Department of Health and Social Care connected with the British Medical Association, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, Money Advice Trust, UK Finance, the Credit Services Association to streamline the form. It is now shorter and easier to complete.
Does a health professional have to fill out the form if I ask them to?
No, they don’t. A health or social care professional doesn’t have to complete the form – and if they do, they can choose which questions they are willing to answer. Don’t worry though – just because one person involved with your support can’t or won’t complete the form – it doesn’t mean you can’t ask someone else.