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ombudsman news

issue 138

November/December 2016

opening up

It's estimated that in any one year, one in four people experience mental health difficulties. Just like poor physical health, poor mental health can have a significant impact on people's everyday lives. And yet - although things appear to be better than they were - it's still generally the case that people find it more difficult to open up about their state of mind than they do about conditions that are more visible.

There's a long-established link between mental health and debt: research suggests that half of people who have a debt problem also have a mental health problem. This link is something that's all too apparent from the complaints we receive each year involving difficulties with mental health as well as with money. And if people have been reluctant - or unable - to talk about what they're going through, both their mental health and their finances may be in a very bad way.

So how do we break the link between mental health and debt - and break down the barriers to talking about them? It's clear that both these complex issues will require a joint effort to address - and I'm very grateful to the experts who've shared their personal reflections and professional experience in this month's ombudsman focus.

Like many organisations - including many financial businesses and regulators - we've pledged to promote open conversations about mental wellbeing in our own workplace. And we'll continue to share our own insight about the problems being escalated to us - as part of the ongoing conversations around mental health, and vulnerability more broadly, that are happening within and beyond financial services.

This is the final ombudsman news of 2016. And as the end of the year approaches, we've already been thinking about the next financial and planning cycle - and will shortly be publishing our proposed plans and budget for 2017/2018. As always, we rely on our stakeholders' informed views and insight to help shape and refine our thinking about the future. So I hope you'll find time to read and respond to our consultation before it closes in January 2017.

Caroline Wayman

Image: Caroline Wayman
Caroline Wayman
chief ombudsman

ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.