Statistics highlighting the link between poor mental health and the cost-of-living crisis are a “stark reminder” to creditors, says Argyll’s Citizens Advice Bureau.

Their words came in response to mental health charity See Me’s findings that 59 per cent of people in Scotland have been mentally impacted by the cost-of-living crisis and in light of new guidance by Citizens Advice Scotland [CAS].

The organisation has now laid out 10 key principles asking creditors to consider how they could improve their services to protect people’s mental health.

The Helensburgh-based branch’s manager, Jen Broadhurst, hopes local creditors will be more empathetic and expressed concerns about the major rise in service usage throughout the area.

Jen said: “Right now, Argyll & Bute CAB is seeing an unprecedented demand for our advice services. The rising cost of living is hitting hard, and all predictions point to a looming debt crisis.

“Put simply, for many households’ their essential monthly outgoings exceed their incomes. Rent or mortgage, council tax, utilities, food and travel costs have all risen.

“The message is clear - we need to put the brakes on a mental health crisis and much more needs to be done to help people who are struggling with their health to take control of their finances.

“[The research is] a stark reminder to every creditor, from commercial firms to public bodies recovering debt, that there is a high likelihood that the person they are passing to a debt collector or sheriff officer with problem debt has poor mental health.”

The 10 steps creditors and firms have been asked to follow are: ‘No enforcement’; ‘collaboration not contention’; ‘holistic view of debts’; ‘trust’; ‘evidence only in exceptional circumstances’; ‘tell us once’; ‘extra time’; ‘superior signposting’; ‘communication choice’ and ‘supporting carers’.

The guidance is available to lenders across Scotland’s public and private sectors.

CAS spokesperson Sarah-Jayne Dunn said: “People who are struggling with their health are less likely to be able to re-pay their arrears, so it makes sense all round for creditors to adopt a constructive approach to help consumers manage both their financial and their health situation.

"Treating customers as the experts on their own lives and being trusted as the best person to explain how their mental health condition impacts on them, is a fundamental component to providing better support.

"By adopting our guidance, creditors can break this vicious cycle and care for their customers at a time when support for people's mental health and money is needed now more than ever."

The issues highlighted in the research have been presented to the Scottish Government, who said they will do what they can to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis’ effects.

A government spokesperson said: "Many of the levers to tackle poverty remain in the hands of the UK Government, and we continue to urge them to use all the powers at their disposal.

"We will continue to take action to tackle the cost-of-living crisis within our powers and fixed budget.

“Our new Winter Heating Payment was automatically paid to 400,000 people this year to help with the cost of winter energy bills.

"Direct investment in mental health has more than doubled since 2020-21.”

To read the full CAS guidance offered to Scottish creditors, visit: