It can be beneficial to inform creditors of any mental health issues which are affecting your ability to repay as it may change the way the creditors deal with your account. There are a number of different industry guidelines and codes of practice that provide guidance to creditors on how to deal with customers who are living with mental illness.
•Adjustments that creditors could make to their standard practice when informed of a customer’s mental illness may include:
•Transferring the account to a specialist team with an increased awareness of mental illness
•Communicating in a more appropriate way e.g. if you find telephone calls stressful, the creditor may agree to only contact you in writing
•Communicating at appropriate times e.g. if the medication you take means you are sleepy in the mornings they may agree to only call you in the afternoon
•Placing the account on hold
•Agreeing to write off all or part of the debt
You can find more information about industry guidelines and codes of practice here.
Creditors may want to see some medical evidence of your illness before they agree to adjust their standard practices; this evidence should come from a member of your health care team. The information that may be useful to the creditors will include:
•Details of your condition
•Information about how long you have been affected by the condition
•An explanation of how your condition impacts you ability to manage money
The Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG) has produced the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form. This form is a tool that will enable money advisers and creditors to request clear and relevant information in a standard format from health and social care professionals. The creditors can then use the information provided in the form to help them deal with your account appropriately To get a copy of this form, or to find out more about how it works you should contact a debt adviser or visit the MALG website.
How information is used
If you inform the creditors of your condition, they will store the information on their systems, and if relevant use it to make decisions about how your accounts should be handled. Information will be kept on file for as long is required for business purposes (normally 6 years). This information is not allowed to be shared with other organizations.
Creditors should not use the information you have provided to make lending decisions in the future, but may use it as a trigger to ask further questions about your condition to ensure they are lending responsibly.