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Easing worries to improve health

Mental health can be improved by taking advice to address practical problems.
Mental health can be improved by taking advice to address practical problems.

Citizens Advice helps thousands of people with mental health problems.

The number of people in the North East with mental health problems who use Citizens Advice reached over 7,000 last year. On average, they needed advice on seven issues.

A survey from Citizens Advice found that mental health practitioners are spending more time on non-health related issues, such as debt or housing.

Eight in 10 surveyed said they had less time to deliver clinical care after being asked to assist with tasks like debt management plans and contacting public service bodies.

Citizens Advice runs sessions in GP surgeries and hospitals to allow health professionals to focus on treatment, and help people tackle practical problems that can cause or contribute to their poor mental health.

Abigail Conway, chief executive of Citizens Advice Northumberland said: “This research shows that too often mental health professionals are spending appointment time helping patients with wider problems.

“It is vital that people with mental health problems have access to appropriate practical support in their community. Sufferers of mental health problems don’t feel in control of their circumstances. Practical problems, like debt, can often be more difficult to manage.”

Nina was struggling with her housing situation. She was behind in paying her rent. The threat of being evicted was making her feel very anxious. The strain was also aggravating a long-term health condition. She needed help.

Nina found advice on our website and contacted her local Citizens Advice to make an appointment.

Sam, a volunteer adviser, helped Nina work through her problem. He found out that Nina had recently experienced a change in her employment. This was putting additional pressure on her finances. Sam helped Nina write a letter to her landlord and set up a payment plan. This stopped her landlord trying to evict her.

Together, they worked out a budget to help Nina with other debts and maximise her income. Nina was on a flexible hours contract so Sam helped her better understand her rights at work.

Nina was able to get back to normal and her quality of life improved. Her physical health improved and she didn’t need additional health services.

People like Nina, who live in privately rented accommodation and are renewing or starting a new contract will benefit when the ban on lettings agent fees is fully implemented.

Stopping Nina from being evicted, and improving her mental and physical health, meant she didn’t need extra support from public services. Her wellbeing improved and she had extra money in her pocket to help with everyday costs.

Making a difference to people like Nina was why Sam wanted to volunteer in the first place.

He wanted to use his skills and experience from his working life to help people with their problems.

Working at his local Citizens Advice means Sam has a better understanding of the issues in his community. He also finds volunteering and the training he received from Citizens Advice has helped him develop in his career.

For advice and information on all matters, such as money worries, housing, employment or benefits, etc, call 03444 111444.

For specialist debt advice call 01670 339960 or text DEBT to 81400.

Need energy advice? Email energy@citizensadvicenorthumberland.org.uk

For office opening times see www.citizensadvice.org.uk/northumberland

Help is also available at referral@citizensadvicenorthumbnerland.org.uk

Anyone interested in volunteering should call Michelle Turnbull on 01670 853823 or email michelleturnbull@citizensadvicenorthumberland.org.uk