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Eventually she decided the only route out was bankruptcy. The institute's analysis suggested that one in four people affected by depression, such as Debbie, were in problem debt, compared with one in 20 people who did not have mental health problems.

Just about everyone has a complicated relationship with money.

It said symptoms of depression, such as low moods and poor concentration, could affect people's ability to manage their finances. Helen Undy, the institute's chief executive, said: "When you're struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety - so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives.

She called on the government to dictate minimum standards that providers of services, ranging from banks and energy suppliers to debt collectors, offered to those with mental health difficulties to ensure they got a fair deal. Image copyright Getty Images People with mental health issues are three-and-a-half times more likely to be in problem debt than those without such conditions, analysis suggests. It is leading calls for greater protection for those in this situation.

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View comments. More on this story. Poor mental health at work 'widespread'. Elsewhere on the BBC. Martin Lewis Why you should check your savings account now. Having someone to help me with my money has made a big difference for me. Marguerite had been attending the Mood Disorders Association MDA self-help support group and often volunteered with our association, where I work as the media director, arranging display events, creating materials, assisting volunteers and so on.

Marguerite often stopped by my office just to have a chat, and we built a friendly relationship over time. I realized the distress she was in because of her money problems, and we discussed how she might deal with this problem. As we were going through this process of pulling all her information together, another huge debt surfaced. A family member who had a bad driving record and past claims had persuaded Marguerite to insure his car under her name so he could get a cheaper insurance rate. Then he had an accident—his fault—and the car was a write-off. With this added financial obligation, the counsellor recommended filing for bankruptcy because she felt it was unlikely that Marguerite would ever be able to repay her debts.


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But her psychiatrist adjusted the medications to help her cope. Bankruptcy is a nine- to month process for someone claiming bankruptcy for the first time. It involves meeting with a trustee licensed by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy OSB Canada, who evaluates the situation and explains how bankruptcy works. The trustee files the necessary papers with the OSB and deals directly with the creditors. Because of her low income, Marguerite was allowed to make a monthly payment instead of paying the full amount to the bankruptcy trustee.

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Beginning in spring , Marguerite was required to submit a report to the trustee each month showing her income and expenditures. Marguerite and I worked together to create a daily journal, where she recorded all the money she spent each day. For the first time, she needed to show a receipt for every expenditure. Marguerite was amazed at how all those little amounts added up.

And she realized things like how much she spent on unhealthy fast foods at the bakery to satisfy her craving for sweets and the take-out pizza place when her mood made it hard to prepare a meal. Realizing this and feeling more in control of her money, she started spending more of her food budget at the grocery and produce stores instead.

The Credit Counselling Society helps you deal with debt, manage your finances and use credit responsibly. For more information, visit their website at www. Visit www.

You can learn more about debt and bankruptcy, and download useful publications. For information on debt, credit, bankruptcy and other topics, visit www.


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During the year, she was required to attend two counselling sessions with the bankruptcy counsellor to review how she was managing her finances. Since her bankruptcy was discharged in , Marguerite has continued to record her expenditures. We meet and review the information a couple of times a month and make adjustments to the budgeted amounts when necessary; for example, when the cost for her monthly transit pass increased.

And now, instead of making a monthly payment to the trustee, she puts that amount in her savings account, along with any extra money she receives such as her HST credit payments.

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Debt and Disorder

Marguerite has used her savings to pay for a new television and some dental work, and is currently saving for a washer and dryer. On a couple of occasions, a friend took her out on a pass and they went shopping. The credit cards were gone, but she did have a debit card and her disability pension cheque had been deposited. Once she was discharged from hospital, we sat down to do our regular review, and she could see in writing, on paper, the effects of her shopping sprees.

Mental Health

Marguerite and I discuss any unusual expenses. When she needed dental work beyond the regular maintenance, she got a quote and questioned any possible alternatives before agreeing to the procedure. She now sees the necessity of saving money to get those nice things she wants—and to cover the unexpected.